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COMPANION TO THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Contents

Introduction 4

Profiles of vice-presidents 17-23

Commission departments 6

Jean-Claude Juncker 8-9

Role of the vice-presidents 10

Project teams 11

Frans Timmermans 12

Deregulation 13

Federica Mogherini 14

Foreign policy 15 & 16

Commission work 24-26

programme

Profiles of commissioners 27-53

Team Juncker: the full list 34-35

Secretariat-general 42

Gender balance 54

Useful links and locations 55

Pay grades and salaries 56-57

Writers Paul Dallison | Andrew Gardner | Nicholas Hirst | Dave Keating | Tim King | Cynthia Kroet | James Panichi |

Simon Taylor

Design Paul Dallison | Jeanette Minns

Cover Marco Villard

Graphics Michael Agar | Darren Perera

Artwork iStock | European Parliament | EPA

European Voice provides

essential, independent insight

into the Brussels beltway for

insiders and outsiders. As

the leading source of news

and analysis on key EU

policies, laws and institutions,

European Voice informs

business leaders, policymakers

and all those who

have a stake in EU decisions.

Our reporters cut through

the complexity. They bridge

the gap between technical

minutiae and the big political

picture. These values infuse

our flagship weekly newspaper,

our daily digital

briefings and our live events.

3


INTRODUCTION

The European Commission that began

work on 1 November 2014 is an

administration on trial. Its president,

Jean­Claude Juncker, has promised an

agenda of change – for the administration

that he leads and for the European Union as

a whole. The two are related: Juncker

believes that reforms made to the

Commission will have beneficial

consequences for the work of the EU and

therefore for how the EU is perceived in the

wider world.

From the outset, Juncker has made

changes to the structure of the European

Commission – to the way commissioners are

organised and to the departmental

configurations. In doing so, he has sent

ripples of unease through the community of

EU­watchers who had grown familiar with

old ways of doing things. One of the

questions examined during the course of this

Companion to the European Commission is

whether the changes that have been made

are simply cosmetic or whether they will be

of deep, lasting significance.

This publication has a twin purpose. It sets

out to explain the new structures and to put

them in context. It also provides an

introduction to the people who will adorn

those structures: the 28 European

commissioners and their staff. We explain

where they have come from and suggest

what their priorities might be. The aim is to

put some human faces on what is often

derided as a faceless bureaucracy. We do so

not because we want the Commission to be

loved, but because we think it should be

understood.

There has been much talk in recent years

of how the European Commission has lost

power relative to the other EU institutions –

the European Parliament and the Council of

Ministers. That is indeed the case, but the

EU as a whole gained in power as a result of

the Lisbon treaty of 2009. Moreover, the

Commission is still the biggest and most

complex of the three main EU institutions.

The commissioners and their various

departments will continue to make an

impact on EU policy.

The nature of such a volume is that it must

be selective. If it were complete, it would be

overweight and unread. This is a trimmer

and more entertaining read, which still

aspires to be useful. How long it remains so

is in the lap of the gods, or perhaps Juncker.

For the speed with which it becomes

obsolete may be indicative of the success of

Juncker’s reforms – or their failure.

Tim King

Editor, European Voice

Brussels, February 2015

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4

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Competitiveness

Begins with Confidence

President Juncker is demonstrating decisive leadership

in the design of the new Commission and by clearly

differentiating many policy lines from the past.

The key to success is in building confidence.

That extends to business confidence too.

Care must be taken not to simply talk competitiveness

while undermining the industry we have. The EU must

nurture a broad and balanced industrial base, especially

its existing manufacturing industry, to sustain the

European economy of the twenty first century.

Policies once set must not be systematically revisited

and changed. That destroys investor confidence.

The EU must re-establish itself as a reliable location to

invest, so that boardrooms in Europe and around the

world extend existing manufacturing operations in the

EU and inject new investment.

The simple truth is that business needs stable policy

and legal certainty to invest with confidence. Do the right

thing, please, Mr. President!

GOOD LUCK TO THE JUNCKER COMMISSION.

International Paper Europe has reduced its greenhouse gas

emissions by 73% since 1990. It is committing to reduce them

a further 20% by 2020 (baseline 2010).

The Company is currently planting in Poland what will be one

of Europe’s largest woody biomass plantations providing

carbon neutral energy for it’s manufacturing operations.

5


DEPARTMENTS

Juncker moves the pieces

The European Commission began 2015

with various changes to departmental

structure taking effect.

The changes were the result of a

restructuring of Commission departments

announced by Jean­Claude Juncker, the

president of the Commission, before he

took office, reflecting in particular his

thinking on how the Commission should

support the economy and regulate business.

The old directorate­general for the internal

market and services (DG MARKT), and the

old directorate­general for enterprise and

industry (DG ENTR) were the two

departments most affected by the changes.

From the former, the responsibility for

regulating financial services was stripped

out to create a stand­alone department: the

new directorate­general for financial

stability, financial services and capital

markets union (DG FISMA). To it were

added some units that were previously part

of the directorate­general for economic and

financial affairs.

The parts of the old DG MARKT that dealt

with other economic sectors – focusing in

particular on ensuring the free movement

of goods and services as applied to those

sectors – were transferred to the revamped

DG Enterprise, which was renamed DG

Growth (abbreviated to DG GROW). It also

takes in the unit for health technology and

cosmetics that was previously in the

directorate­general for health and

consumers (DG SANCO).

The unit dealing with copyright was

moved from the internal market

department to the department for

communications networks, content and

technology. The decision reflected the

thinking that revising copyright rules for the

digital age was a priority.

The elements of DG SANCO that dealt

with consumer policy were transferred to

the directorate­general for justice. DG

SANCO has therefore been reduced to the

directorate­general for health and its

abbreviation revised to DG SANTE.

One of the effects of the changes is that

the departmental responsibilities are more

closely aligned with those of particular

European commissioners. So DG GROW’s

mandate is now more closely aligned with

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the European

commissioner for internal market, industry,

entrepreneurship and SMEs. DG FISMA’s

mandate more closely matches the

responsibilities of Jonathan Hill, the

European commissioner for financial

stability, financial services and capital

markets union.

Commission departments

Agriculture and rural development (AGRI)

Budget (BUDG)

Climate action (CLIMA)

Communication (COMM)

Communications networks, content

and technology (CNECT)

Competition (COMP)

Economic and financial affairs (ECFIN)

Education and culture (EAC)

Employment, social affairs and inclusion

(EMPL)

Energy (ENER)

Environment (ENV)

Eurostat (ESTAT)

Financial stability, financial services and

capital markets union (FISMA)

Health and food safety (SANTE)

Humanitarian aid and civil protection (ECHO)

Human resources and security (HR)

Informatics (DIGIT)

Internal market, industry, entrepreneurship

and SMEs (GROW)

International co-operation and

Development (DEVCO)

Interpretation (SCIC)

Joint research centre (JRC)

Justice and consumers (JUST)

Maritime affairs and fisheries (MARE)

Migration and home affairs (HOME)

Mobility and transport (MOVE)

Neighbourhood and enlargement

negotiations (NEAR)

Regional and urban policy (REGIO)

Research and innovation (RTD)

Secretariat-general (SG)

Service for foreign policy instruments (FPI)

Taxation and customs union (TAXUD)

Trade (TRADE)

Translation (DGT)

6


e-Contacts EP

7


PRESIDENT

Jean-Claude Juncker

President of the European

Commission

Country

Born

Luxembourg

Redange, Luxembourg,

9 December 1954

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter @JunckerEU

Jean­Claude Juncker has described the

administration that he now heads as the

“last­chance Commission” – one that has

to restore trust in the European Union. If it

fails, he implies, the credibility of the

Commission will be lost forever.

The oddity is that this last­chance

Commission is headed by a second­chance

politician. Juncker’s political career looked

to have reached the end of the line when,

after 18 years as prime minister of

Luxembourg, he was forced to call a general

election in 2013 and his political opponents

formed a coalition that kept his centre­right

party out of government.

That defeat proved to be the launch­pad

for another phase in his parallel career as a

European Union politician. Despite the

much talked­about misgivings of Angela

Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, he became

the candidate of the centre­right European

People’s Party (EPP) for the presidency of

the Commission, ie, the EPP went into the

European Parliament elections saying that it

wanted him to head the Commission. When

the EPP emerged as the party with most

seats in the European Parliament, his drive

for the Commission presidency became

unstoppable – whatever the objections of

some members of the European Council (of

whom David Cameron was the most vocal).

So, improbably, Juncker, who had been

talked about as a possible European

Commission president in 2004, when José

Manuel Barroso was first nominated, and

again in 2009 as a possible president of the

European Council, when Herman Van

Rompuy was chosen, became president of

the Commission in 2014.

What made this second­coming all the

more surprising was that Juncker had

become a figure of declining authority on

the European stage. Although he had been

a constant presence on the EU scene for 25

years, his influence seemed to be waning in

the second decade of the 21st century.

At the creation of the euro in 1999,

meetings of the eurozone finance ministers

– the Eurogroup – did not have formal

decision­making powers. Eurogroup

meetings were by definition informal –

8

because the countries outside the eurozone

(particularly the United Kingdom) were

reluctant to grant them greater status.

However, it was always clear that the

Eurogroup would matter (its importance

was belatedly recognised in the EU’s Lisbon

treaty, which granted it formal status) and

in 2004 the Eurogroup decided its

chairmanship should be made semipermanent.

Juncker became the first president of the

Eurogroup in part because, as well as being

finance minister of Luxembourg, a position

he had held since 1989, he was also prime

minister – a position he had succeeded to in

1995 when Jacques Santer became

president of the European Commission.

As the head of a government, he had

access to the offices of other government

leaders (inside and outside the EU) that

other finance ministers would not have.

So as prime minister, Juncker was a member

of the European Council from 1995­2013. As

finance minister, he was attending the

Council of Ministers from 1989­2009, after

which he was still attending meetings of the

Eurogroup as its president until the

beginning of 2013.

But as the eurozone went from creditcrunch

to sovereign debt crisis to

widespread recession, Juncker’s star was

eclipsed, in part because responsibility for

responding to events passed up to the

European Council. The likes of Angela

Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy became the key

figures – along with Jean­Claude Trichet, the

president of the European Central Bank, and

his successor Mario Draghi. In comparison,

Juncker seemed – perhaps understandably –

exhausted.

All this makes the resurrection of his

European career, in the new incarnation of

president of the European Commission,

intriguing. Never before has an incoming

Commission president had such a lengthy

apprenticeship on the European stage.

Never before has a Commission president

had such a wealth of contacts across the

European Union’s member states and

beyond.

But how does somebody so steeped in

Europe’s past succeed in persuading voters

that from now on things are different?

Arguably Juncker ought to know Europe’s

problems better than anyone, but does that

mean that he has viable solutions?

At the outset of his Commission

presidency, Juncker presented 10 strategic

priorities that he planned to pursue – a far

cry from the sprawling wish­list that have

sometimes been espoused by incoming

Commission presidents.

He also announced a change to the

structure of the college of commissioners

and presented his plans for re­organising

the structure of Commission departments.

He has given the appearance of having a

rediscovered sense of purpose. His

admirers believe that his political

awareness and his ability to forge

compromises will give new purpose to the

Commission that he heads. His doubters

fear that he no longer has the energy or

stamina to stay the course, and to stay

engaged with the Commission’s work across

such a broad front of policy portfolios.

Whether those doubts are allayed may

depend on his ability to manage his team

effectively. His appointment of Frans

Timmermans as first vice­president was

more than just politically astute (a balance

of centre­right and centre­left). It also sent

a strong signal that he was not embarking

on a ‘look­at­me’ presidency. Modern

politics – and the expansion of the EU to 28

states – seem to dictate that European

Commission administrations should be

quite centralised, but Juncker’s lengthy

political experience may have made him

readier to share the limelight with others.

Quite apart from Timmermans and Federica

Mogherini, three of his vice­presidents are

ex­prime ministers. Juncker is ready to

share the workload. What he will provide is

an intimate knowledge of the EU and

wisdom accumulated over many years.


CV

2004-13

President of the Eurogroup

1995-2013

Prime minister of Luxembourg

1995-2013

Minister of state

1989-2009

Minister for finance

1989-99

Minister for labour

1984-89

Minister for labour, minister

delegate for the budget

1982-84

State secretary for labour and social

security

1974

Joined the CSV party

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Martin Selmayr

Deputy head of cabinet

Clara Martinez Alberola

Cabinet members

Sandra Kramer

Luc Tholoniat

Paulina Dejmek-Hack

Carlo Zadra

Antoine Kasel

Telmo Baltazar

Pauline Rouch

Léon Delvaux

Richard Szostak

The cabinet

Juncker’s private office is dominated by

officials who worked for Viviane Reding

when she was commissioner for three

terms. Martin Selmayr was head of her

private office when she was

commissioner for justice, fundamental

rights and citizenship. Other members

of the office who worked for Reding

include Richard Szostak, Paulina

Dejmek-Hack, Telmo Baltazar, and

Pauline Rouch. Clara Martinez-Alberola,

a Spaniard who is deputy head of

cabinet, used to work for José Manuel

Barroso. Sandra Kramer, a Dutch official

who is in charge of administrative

issues, was in the Commission’s justice

department before joining Juncker’s

private office.

Martin Selmayr

Head of Juncker’s cabinet

Country

Born

Twitter

Germany

Bonn, Germany,

5 December 1970

@MartinSelmayr

Martin Selmayr, who heads the

private office of Jean­Claude

Juncker, is already regarded as one

of the most powerful people in the new

administration. Indeed, people see his

influence even when it is not there. Talked

about in hushed tones, he is given almost

mythical status, a latter­day Count Olivares to

Philip IV of Spain, or Cardinal Richelieu to

Louis XIII of France, or (perhaps less

fantastically) Pascal Lamy to Jacques Delors.

Myth­making is part of Selmayr’s art. He is a

clever lawyer, who became a highly effective

spin­doctor, and then a policy adviser with his

hands on patronage. He has used all these

skills to such good effect that he now has

many loyal supporters and not a few bitter

enemies.

He has worked for ten years in the

Commission, but is still perceived by many as

an outsider. He has not worked inside a

Commission department. He has risen by

making himself useful – even indispensable –

to commissioners, and he has raised others

after him.

Now aged 44, Selmayr is by background an

academic lawyer. He studied at the

Universities of Geneva and Passau, at King’s

College London, and at UCLA, Berkeley.

He received a doctorate from Passau in 2001,

with a thesis on the law of economic and

monetary union. By then he had been

working for the European Central Bank as

legal counsel and then legal adviser.

In 2001, he joined Bertelsmann, the German

media company, and became head of its

Brussels office in 2003. He has longestablished

links with German Christian

Democrats, notably Elmar Brok, a veteran

MEP, who was retained by Bertelsmann.

In 2004 Selmayr passed a European Union

recruitment competition for lawyers and

joined the Commission in November of that

year. He became spokesperson for Viviane

Reding, who was about to embark on her

second term as a European commissioner,

with the portfolio of information society and

media.

The portfolio included telecoms, and

Selmayr’s greatest public relations triumph

was winning credit for his commissioner for

legislation to cap roaming charges. Although

the telecoms companies complained that it

HEAD OF CABINET

was wealthy business­travellers who stood to

gain most from the cap, at the expense of

other telecoms consumers, Selmayr

positioned Reding and the Commission as the

consumers’ champion. He clearly had a talent

for massaging the message – he had a

tendency to oversell his boss’s achievements

and journalists soon learned to double­check

what he said in briefings.

But there was no doubting the strength of

his bond with Reding. They were made for

each other – neither was troubled by selfdoubt

– and when she was nominated for a

third term as Luxembourg’s European

commissioner, he became head of her private

office. It helped that Johannes Laitenberger,

who had previously been head of Reding’s

office, had by then advanced to head the

office of José Manuel Barroso, the

Commission president.

Reding became commissioner for justice,

fundamental rights and citizenship and was

outspoken in her criticism of the Hungarian

government’s treatment of Roma, and

clashed on similar issues with the French and

Italian governments.

It was therefore a touch over­confident of

Selmayr to develop plans for Reding to be the

candidate of the European People’s Party for

the presidency of the Commission. Selmayr

sought to raise her profile as a champion of

fundamental rights and gender equality with

bold policy initiatives, such as the EU’s tough

data protection rules and a bid to impose

quotas on the number of women on company

boards. It was beyond even his powers, but it

did mean he was well­positioned to take up

the lance for Jean­Claude Juncker, when a

change of government in Luxembourg freed

him to bid for the Commission presidency. He

became campaign manager and was then

appointed head of Juncker’s office.

In turn, he has brought into the office of the

Commission president and the

spokesperson’s service officials who had

worked for him with Reding.

Few doubt Selmayr’s energy or his ambition,

which will go a long way to compensate for

his lack of experience in the Commission.

How successful he is in enforcing the wishes

of his master may depend on who is chosen

as the next secretary­general of the

Commission.

9


VICE-PRESIDENTS

The chosen ones

From the moment that Jean­Claude

Juncker announced that he was

creating a tier of seven vice­presidents

with greater powers than the remaining 20

commissioners, there were questions about

what would make the vice­presidents

different.

The Commission has had vice­presidents

before – there were initially seven in the

2010­14 college, later increased to eight by

the promotion of the commissioner for

economic and monetary affairs – but apart

from drawing a higher salary, it was hard to

see what distinguished the vice­presidents

from the others, not least because José

Manuel Barroso assigned each

commissioner a separate policy area.

Juncker changed all that by making vicepresidents

responsible for particular teams

of commissioners (see opposite page).

So in practice the ordinary commissioners

become answerable to the vice­presidents.

In turn, the vice­presidents have

responsibility for policy areas that overlap

or overlay those of the ordinary

commissioners.

So much for the theory. The question on

many people’s lips was how will it work in

practice? How much power would the vicepresidents

have if they had no control of

individual Commission departments? How

would the ordinary commissioners

respond to vice­presidential oversight?

It did not take long (just one month) for

the first clues and hints to emerge about

the dynamics between commissioners and

vice­presidents.

On 2 December 2014, three members of the

Commission went to the European

Parliament to appear before a joint meeting

of the committees for economic and

monetary affairs and employment and

social affairs. The three were led by Valdis

Dombrovskis, the vice­president for the

euro and social dialogue, who was

accompanied by Pierre Moscovici, the

commissioner for economic and financial

affairs, taxation and customs, and Marianne

Thyssen, the commissioner for employment,

social affairs, skills and labour mobility.

Dombrovskis presented to MEPs the broad

outlines of the Commission’s approach with

an overview of the economic situation as

well as an explanation of the annual growth

strategy, stressing the importance of

structural reform and financial

responsibility. Moscovici talked about the

situation of individual member states and

the Commission’s assessment of their

national budget plans, while Thyssen

addressed employment issues and labour

market reforms.

10

One of the important developments is that

the Parliament is responding to the changed

structure of the Commission with its own

improvisations: in this case, a joint meeting

of its committees.

One committee on its own could not

encompass the breadth of Dombrovskis’s

responsibilities. Moscovici later addressed

the economic and monetary affairs

committee separately for a more specific

discussion about national finances.

The next day (3 December), the EU was

represented at the EU­US energy council in

Brussels by Federica Mogherini, the EU’s

foreign policy chief, Maroš Šefčovič, the

Commission’s vice­president for energy

union, and Miguel Arias Cañete, the

European commissioner for climate action

and energy.

It is still not fully clear how the division of

labour (and of status) will work out between

Šefčovič and Cañete, though it was Cañete

who went to Lima for international talks on

climate change.

The gap between Mogherini and the other

commissioners working on foreign policy –

Johannes Hahn (neighbourhood policy and

enlargement negotiations); Cecilia

Malmström (trade); Neven Mimica

(international co­operation and

development); and Christos Stylianides

(humanitarian aid and crisis management) –

is much clearer. Mogherini is not just a

Commission vice­president, but also the

EU’s high representative for foreign affairs

and security policy, and that, along with the

resources of the European External Action

Service, gives her extra status.

In similar ways, Frans Timmermans – as

first vice­president – has been given extra

status. He is in charge of better regulation,

inter­institutional relations and rule of law.

Both he and Kristalina Georgieva, the vicepresident

with responsibility for budget and

human resources, have remits that run

across all Commission departments.

On the other hand, it looks as if it will be

harder for the more policy­specific vicepresidents

to establish just how they are

different from the commissioners beneath

them (or alongside them?).

The most intriguing potential source of

tension is between Günther Oettinger, who

has embarked on his second term as

Germany’s European commissioner, but is

not a vice­president, and Andrus Ansip, a

former prime minister of Estonia. The

former is the commissioner for the digital

economy and society; the latter is now

Commission vice­president for the digital

single market.

When Juncker and Timmermans were

drawing up the Commission’s work

programme for 2015, they convened a

meeting of the vice­presidents, but the

other 20 commissioners were not invited.

It is here that, in theory at least, the vicepresidents

have considerable power. They

can promote – or, conversely, filter out –

the projects of their commissioners.

This gives a clue as to what makes the

vice­presidents different: they enjoy their

special power at the discretion of the

president. It is effectively his delegated

power that makes them more important

than the other 20. If he convenes a meeting

with the vice­presidents, they have his ear,

the others do not.

Logically, Juncker must refuse to allow the

other commissioners to bypass their

vice­presidents and to seek a direct line to

him.


PROJECT TEAMS

Team players?

The President of the European

Commission has named seven vicepresidents

responsible for designated

policy areas. The other 20 commissioners

are arranged in project teams and are

answerable to one or more vice­presidents.

Despite this obvious hierarchy, Jean­

Claude Juncker has been at pains to stress

that it is a college of equals. “In the new

Commission, there are no first or secondclass

commissioners – there are team

leaders and team players,” he said when he

unveiled his line­up in September 2014.

Juncker warned the commissioners to

prepare themselves for a “new collaborative

way of working”.

The vice­presidents “steer and coordinate”

the work of other commissioners

within “well­defined priority projects”.

Juncker has said that he is delegating to

his vice­presidents the power to stop

members of their team from bringing a

legislative proposal to the entire college.

He will also delegate to the vice­presidents

the resources of his secretariat­general.

Project team

Better regulation, inter­institutional

relations, the rule of law, the Charter

of Fundamental Rights and

sustainable development

Who is in charge?

Frans Timmermans

Which commissioners are involved?

All of them

Project team

Budget and human resources

Who is in charge?

Kristalina Georgieva

Which commissioners are involved?

All of them

Project team

A deeper and fairer Economic and

Monetary Union

Who is in charge?

Valdis Dombrovskis (the euro and social

dialogue)

Which commissioners are involved?

Pierre Moscovici (economic and financial

affairs, taxation and customs)

Marianne Thyssen (employment, social

affairs, skills and labour mobility)

Jonathan Hill (financial stability, financial

services and capital markets union)

Elżbieta Bieńkowska (internal market,

industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs)

Tibor Navracsics (education, culture,

youth and sport)

Corina Creţu (regional policy)

Vĕra Jourová (justice, consumers and

gender equality)

Project team

A stronger global actor

Who is in charge?

Federica Mogherini (high representative

of the EU for foreign affairs and security

policy)

Which commissioners are involved?

Johannes Hahn (European neighbourhood

policy and enlargement negotiations)

Cecilia Malmström (trade)

Neven Mimica (international

co­operation and development)

Christos Stylianides (humanitarian aid

and crisis management)

Project team

A new boost for jobs, growth and

investment

Who is in charge?

Jyrki Katainen (vice­president for jobs,

growth, investment and competitiveness)

Which commissioners are involved?

Günther Oettinger (digital economy and

society)

Pierre Moscovici (economic and financial

affairs, taxation and customs)

Jonathan Hill (financial stability, financial

services and capital markets union)

Elżbieta Bieńkowska (internal market,

industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs)

Marianne Thyssen (employment, social

affairs, skills and labour mobility)

Corina Crețu (regional policy)

Miguel Arias Cañete (climate action and

energy)

Violeta Bulc (transport)

Project team

A resilient energy union with a forwardlooking

climate change policy

Who is in charge?

Maroš Šefčovič (energy union)

Which commissioners are involved?

Miguel Arias Cañete (climate action and

energy)

Violeta Bulc (transport)

Elżbieta Bieńkowska (internal market,

industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs)

Karmenu Vella (environment, maritime

affairs and fisheries)

Corina Creţu (regional policy)

Phil Hogan (agriculture and rural

development)

Carlos Moedas (research, science and

innovation)

Project team

A digital single market

Who is in charge?

Andrus Ansip (digital single market)

Which commissioners are involved?

Günther Oettinger (digital economy and

society)

Elżbieta Bieńkowska (internal market,

industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs)

Marianne Thyssen (employment, social

affairs, skills and labour mobility)

Vĕra Jourová (justice, consumers and

gender equality)

Pierre Moscovici (economic and financial

affairs, taxation and customs)

Corina Creţu (regional policy)

Phil Hogan (agriculture and rural

development)

11


FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT

F

Better regulation, inter-institutional

relations, rule of law and charter

of fundamental rights

Country

Born

rans Timmermans

The Netherlands

Maastricht,

6 May 1961

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@TimmermansEU

The choice of Frans Timmermans as

right­hand man to Jean­Claude

Juncker, the president of the European

Commission, is a dream come true for the

enthusiastically pro­European Dutchman.

Indeed, Timmermans, who as first vicepresident

is officially as well as informally

Juncker’s deputy, has a CV made to

measure for a top post with an international

organisation.

When he was appointed as the

Netherlands’ foreign affairs minister after

the Dutch elections of 2012, diplomats said

Timmermans was born for the job. He was

well­informed, understood foreign policy

like no other and had language skills which

are matched by few others in the college of

commissioners. What is more he had the

ambition and drive to go further.

Then his popularity in the Netherlands

received a boost – an unforeseen

consequence of the MH17 plane crash in

Ukraine in July 2014. Timmermans’s

emotional speech mourning the death of so

many Dutch men and women at the UN

Security Council did not go unnoticed

abroad either – if nothing else, his

impeccable English made him stand out. His

ability to speak Russian – a legacy of his

military service as an intelligence officer –

has also continued to serve him well as

tension along the EU’s eastern border

continues to mount.

Besides Russian, English and Dutch

Timmermans speaks German, French and

Italian – a range he was more than happy to

put on display at his hearing as a

commissioner­designate at the European

Parliament. This drive to prove himself was

applauded by the MEPs but seen as a

weakness by some at home where it is

considered unseemly to show off.

Born in the Dutch border­city of

Maastricht, but growing up in nearby

Heerlen, Timmermans attended primary

school in nearby Belgium. He may have

inherited some of his famously fiery

temperament from his father, a policeman

who later became a security officer at the

Dutch foreign ministry, the job took him –

and his son – all over Europe.

At university in Nijmegen and Nancy,

12

Timmermans studied French literature for

pleasure and European law to find a job.

Following a diplomatic career that took him

to Moscow, he became a member of staff

for a European commissioner, Hans van den

Broek, then private secretary to his mentor,

Max van der Stoel, the high commissioner

for minorities at the Organisation for

Security and Co­operation in Europe (OSCE).

He entered the Dutch parliament in 1998,

becoming Labour’s foreign­policy

spokesman, but left when he joined the

government as secretary of state for

European affairs in 2007­10.

Timmermans can appear aloof – some say

he is a “classic social democrat” rather than

a man of the people. However, his widely

visited Facebook page on which he regularly

posts pictures of football matches, his visits

to the Pinkpop festival and other events in

his private life suggests he understands the

need to connect.

The run­up to the 2012 general election in

the Netherlands did not suggest a

ministerial career would be inevitable for

Timmermans – in fact, with his Labour Party

attracting low support it appeared

Timmermans’s career had hit a wall. An

attempt to be appointed governor of his

native Limburg province failed, as did a bid

to become the Council of Europe’s

commissioner for human­rights. But his time

CV

2012-14 Foreign minister

2010-12 Member of Dutch parliament

2007-10 European affairs minister

1998-2007 Member of Dutch parliament

1995-98 Private secretary to OSCE high

commissioner for national minorities

1994-95 Assistant to European

commissioner Hans van den Broek

1993-94 Deputy head of department for

developmental aid

1990-93 Deputy secretary, Dutch

embassy in Moscow

1997-90 Policy office, ministry of foreign

affairs

1984-85 Postgraduate courses in

European law and French literature,

University of Nancy

1980-85 Degree in French language and

literature, Radboud University, Nijmegen

was about to come.

Once ensconced in the European

Commission, Timmermans was awarded an

enlarged portfolio which included

‘sustainable development’, something S&D

MEPs had demanded as a condition for

their approval of Spain’s nominee to be

commissioner for energy and climate

Miguel Arias Cañete.

Juncker, a long­time friend, assigned

Timmermans the ‘better regulation’

portfolio in response to long­standing

Dutch criticism of red­tape and excess EU

legislation. Timmermans has a lot on his

plate.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Ben Smulders

Deputy head of cabinet

Michelle Sutton

Cabinet members

Antoine Colombani

Liene Balta

Riccardo Maggi

Bernd Martenczuk

Alice Richard

Maarten Smit

Saar Van Bueren

Sarah Nelen

Timmermans’ office is headed by Ben

Smulders, a compatriot who was a

principal legal adviser in the

Commission’s legal service.

Timmermans’ number two is Michelle

Sutton, a British official who worked in

the office of José Manuel Barroso. Other

notable members of Timmermans’

office include Antoine Colombani, a

former competition department official

who was spokesman for Joaquin

Almunia when he was commissioner for

competition, and Sarah Nelen, a Belgian

who used to work for Herman Van

Rompuy.


BETTER REGULATION

To cut or not to cut?

The unveiling of the European

Commission’s 2015 work programme

was marred by a nasty fight with

MEPs over the planned withdrawal of two

proposals – one on air quality and another

on waste – that had already started making

their way through the legislative process.

They were just two of 80 pieces of draft

legislation in line to be axed.

The Commission was taken aback by the

ferocity of the opposition to its plan. But for

many MEPs the issue was symptomatic of a

larger problem: the Commission’s response

to the surge in Euroscepticism across

Europe, which is that citizens are unhappy

at the EU ‘meddling’ in people’s everyday

lives.

Frans Timmermans, the first vicepresident

in charge of ‘better regulation’,

has stressed that the EU should be big on

the big things and small on the small things.

But critics point out that there is a good

reason for some small things being dealt

with at a European level. They worry that a

deregulatory response to the rise in the

Eurosceptic vote does not address the real

problem – a lack of acceptance by the

public of the European project.

Sophie in ’t Veld, a Dutch Liberal MEP,

says the Commission is in danger of

deregulation for deregulation’s sake. “I

believe in smart trimming, not taking a

blunt axe to the base of the tree,” she told

Timmermans in December 2014. “The

Commission should not throw the baby out

with the bath­water by arbitrarily scrapping

laws.”

But Timmermans has sought to calm

MEPs’ fears by insisting that his agenda is

not to deregulate the EU. “Better

regulation does not mean no regulation or

deregulation,” he told MEPs. “We are not

compromising on the goals we want to

attain, we are looking critically at the

methods we want to use.”

Eventually, the Commission executed a

U­turn on its plan to withdraw and re­draft

the air­quality proposal, saying that it would

instead work with MEPs and member states

to adjust the plan as part of the normal

co­decision procedure. But it is sticking to

its guns on the waste proposal (known as

the ‘circular economy package’) and will put

forward a new version in late 2015.

Beyond the concerns about deregulation,

many in the Parliament and the Council of

Ministers have disputed the Commission’s

prerogative to ‘political discontinuity’ –

withdrawing proposals that have already

been adopted and started the legislative

process. Much of this battle is about

institutional power. Withdrawing the

proposals was seen as an affront to the

other two institutions.

Many of the 80 pieces of legislation listed

for withdrawal were chosen for reasons of

obsolescence or redundancy, and their

withdrawal was previewed by the ‘refit’

report issued in 2014 by José Manuel

Barroso, the then president of the

Commission. But 18 are being withdrawn

because the Commission has deemed that

no agreement is possible between member

states, or between member states and

MEPs. These include proposals for a

directive on the taxing of motor vehicles

that are moved from one country to

another, a decision on the financing of

nuclear power stations, a directive on rates

of excise duty for alcohol, and a directive

on medicinal prices.

A proposed fund to compensate people

who have suffered because of oil pollution

damage in European waters is listed for

withdrawal because “the impact

assessment and relevant analysis are now

out of date”.

A proposed directive on taxation of

energy products and electricity is listed for

withdrawal because “Council negotiations

have resulted in a draft compromise text

that has fully denatured the substance of

the Commission proposal”.

Timmermans has indicated that Jean­

Claude Juncker’s Commission will be more

aggressive about vetoing proposals if it

thinks they have changed substantially

during the legislative process.

Proposed new rules on the labelling of

organic products will be withdrawn unless

there is an agreement between MEPs and

member states within six months. A

directive on maternity leave will also be

withdrawn if there is no agreement within

six months, although the Commission says

that it would replace the latter with a new

proposal.

Over the course of 2015, MEPs will be

watching closely for signs that the

Commission intends to scale back

legislation. If this is indeed the

Commission’s strategy, it is unlikely to make

much difference to the Euroscepticism felt

in some parts of Europe.

See pages 24-26 for more on

the Commission’s work programme

13


VICE-PRESIDENT

Federica Mogherini

High representative of the Union for

foreign affairs and security policy

Country Italy

Born Rome, 16 June 1973

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@FedericaMog

Even for a politician who has built a

career around delivering grace under

pressure, the intensity of the campaign

levelled against Federica Mogherini ahead

of her appointment to the EU’s top

diplomatic post would have been unsettling.

The youngest foreign minister in Italy’s

republican history was attacked for her

politics (too left­wing), her views on Ukraine

(too pro­Russian), her CV (too thin) and

even the writing style on her blog (too

naïve).

Yet the onslaught of criticism did not

discourage the 41­year­old, whose

candidacy relied on Prime Minister Matteo

Renzi’s rock­solid belief that it was Italy’s

turn for a top European Union job. The

Italians argued that opposition to

Mogherini, coming largely from eastern and

central European countries, was tactical

rather than ideological. “It was about some

member states using this as leverage to get

a better deal for their own commissioners,”

an Italian diplomatic source said at the time.

Whatever the political machinations,

Mogherini emerged with the plum position

of High Representative of the Union for

Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and as a

vice­president of the Commission. As things

turned out, one of Mogherini’s harshest

critics, Poland, also secured a top EU role,

when its prime minister, Donald Tusk, was

appointed as president of the European

Council.

The whispering campaign against

Mogherini had centred on her apparent

cosying up to Russian President Vladimir

Putin during a state visit as Italian foreign

minister, in which she ruled out a “military

solution” to the Ukrainian crisis. The Poles

and the Baltic states were dismayed by

the prospect of EU policy towards an

increasingly assertive Russia being set by an

Italian with a track record of appeasing

Moscow.

Even though Mogherini and Renzi

ultimately won the day, since taking office

Mogherini has been at pains to scupper the

perception she is anything but a hard­liner

on Russia. Her first announcement when in

office was a strongly worded statement on

Ukraine, in which she dismissed as

“illegal and illegitimate” elections held in

14

separatist­controlled areas of the country.

Yet even before Mogherini had a chance to

settle into her new digs on the 11th floor of

the Berlaymont building, Russia had come

back to haunt her. A media report revealed

the high representative’s spokeswoman,

Catherine Ray, was married to a partner in a

Brussels public relations firm that lobbies

for Russian state­owned gas company

Gazprom. Mogherini’s office was quick to

shrug off the controversy, yet it was a

reminder of what Mogherini has already

said publicly: Russia is set to dominate her

portfolio over the coming years.

While Mogherini supporters argue that

her pro­Western credibility is beyond doubt,

it is also true that her first political step was

to sign up to the Italian Young Communist

Federation in 1988, when she was a

straight­A student from a middle­class

background in Rome. The daughter of film

director Flavio Mogherini, Federica went to

a local high school with a focus on

languages (she speaks French, English and

some Spanish). She went on to complete a

degree at Rome’s Sapienza University, her

thesis on Islam earning her top marks.

Mogherini then became a party apparatchik,

working for the Democratic Party (or its

earlier post­communist incarnations) in a

foreign­policy unit. It was at this time that

she met her husband Matteo Rebesani, who

was head of the international office of

Walter Veltroni, then the mayor of Rome

and a Democratic Party powerbroker. The

CV

2014 Foreign minister and

international co-operation minister

2013-14 Head of the Italian delegation to

the NATO parliamentary assembly

2008-14 Member of parliament

2008-13 Member of the Parliamentary

Assembly of the Council of Europe

2008-present Member of the Italian

Institute for Foreign Affairs

2007 Fellow of the German Marshall

Fund for the United States

1994 Degree in political science from the

University of Rome

couple have two young daughters, Caterina

and Marta.

Mogherini’s rise through party ranks was

swift and in 2008 she was elected to the

Italian parliament. She remained factionally

aligned with the PD’s old guard and her

relationship with Renzi was marred by

some disparaging remarks about him made

from Mogherini’s Twitter account. Yet, in

spite of the bad blood, Renzi wasted little

time in awarding Mogherini the foreign

ministry, only to back her all the way to

Brussels a few months later.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Stefano Manservisi

Deputy head of cabinet

Oliver Rentschler

Cabinet members

Felix Fernandez-Shaw

Fabrizia Panzetti

Michael Curtis

Peteris Ustubs

Arianna Vannini

Anna Vezyroglou

Iwona Piorko

Enrico Petrocelli

Federica Mogherini has filled her

cabinet with what she herself lacks:

extensive experience of the EU’s

institutions. That is true, above all, of

her chief of staff, Stefano Manservisi, a

fellow Italian. Southern Europeans

predominate, but northern (and,

importantly, central and eastern) Europe

is also represented. Mogherini came to

prominence in a government that

praised itself as being part of the

Erasmus generation; her own cabinet is

youthful with some of the younger

members also bringing links to the

European Parliament and the Italian

parliament.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS

A focus on foreign policy

One of the most important

developments during the last

European Commission, Barroso II,

was the establishment of the European

External Action Service (EEAS). One of the

big questions for Juncker I is whether some

of the structural damage done during the

last five years can be repaired and relations

between the foreign policy structures of the

Commission and the EEAS made more

harmonious.

The creation of the EEAS outside the

Commission involved the transfer of

hundreds of staff out of the Commission’s

service into that of the EEAS, which was

populated with a mix of ex­Commission

officials, diplomats from the services of the

member states, and officials previously

employed in the secretariat of the Council

of Ministers. In the process, divisions were

created or widened between those now

working in the EEAS and those who

remained behind in the Commission.

Jean­Claude Juncker indicated his desire

to narrow the gap between the EEAS and

the Commission when he asked Federica

Mogherini, the new high representative for

foreign and security policy (who is also a

vice­president of the Commission) to

establish her main office in the Berlaymont,

the Commission’s headquarters. Her

predecessor, Catherine Ashton, had

operated principally out of the EEAS’s

headquarters.

Arguably just as significant for the

development of Commission­EEAS relations

as the location of Mogherini’s office is her

choice of Stefano Manservisi to run that

office. Manservisi, who is now her chef de

cabinet, had been working in the EEAS – as

the EU’s ambassador to Turkey – but he was

a recent arrival from the Commission,

where he had variously been directorgeneral

for home affairs, director­general

for development and head of the office of

Romano Prodi, when he was Commission

president. He has brought to Mogherini’s

office a knowledge of how the Commission

works and a wealth of long­standing

relationships that Ashton’s private office did

not have.

Manservisi will know that the EEAS will be

stronger and work more efficiently if it can

make greater use of the staff and resources

of the Commission and co­ordinate its work

with that of the foreign policy parts of the

Commission. Mogherini, who was previously

Italy’s foreign minister, and who, as high

representative for foreign and security

policy, now chairs meetings of the EU’s

foreign ministers, will be well aware that

the member states do not want the EEAS to

be swallowed up again by the Commission.

The point of creating the EEAS as a hybrid

institution, outside the Council and the

Commission, was to achieve a balance. The

role of Mogherini, as both vice­president of

the Commission and high representative, is

to embody that balance.

The parts of the Commission that work on

foreign policy are many and varied.

Arguably the most institutionally curious is

the Foreign Policy Instrument Service. It is a

vestige of the old directorate­general for

external relations – a part that was not

transferred into the EEAS because it deals

with money and its budget remained with

the Commission.

The FPI dispenses money to implement

the policies of the EEAS through various

budgetary instruments: the instrument for

operations of the common foreign and

security policy; the instrument contributing

to stability and peace; the partnership

instrument (which provides some means to

spend on co­operation with middle­income

and high­income countries that do not

qualify for development aid). Together

these add up to less than €1 billion a year,

but that is money that the EEAS covets.

Continues on page 16

15


FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Continued from page 15

(The budget of the EEAS is basically an

administrative one – to pay for the people

and buildings at the EEAS’s headquarters in

Brussels and in the EU’s delegations

abroad.) The staff of FPI are answerable

directly to Mogherini, whereas the other

Commission foreign policy departments

answer to other European commissioners.

Those other departments are:

the directorate­general for international

co­operation and development (DG DEVCO),

which is principally, but not exclusively,

occupied with relations with low­income

developing countries, most of them being

members of the African, Caribbean and

Pacific organisation. The EU’s budget for the

ACP remains separate from the rest of the

EU’s budget and the Commission must

account separately for the ACP budget.

The directorate­general for humanitarian

aid and civil protection (DG ECHO), which

co­ordinates the EU’s response to

emergencies. As an instrument of foreign

policy, it is necessarily much less strategic

than DG DEVCO but does some of the EU’s

most visible work abroad.

The directorate­general for neighbourhood

and enlargement negotiations (DG NEAR). To

what was previously the directorate­general

for enlargement has been added a

directorate that was previously in DG DEVCO

that handles relations with the countries of

the neighbourhood, on the EU’s southern

and eastern borders. That addition signals

both the increasing importance of the

neighbourhood and diminished expectations

about any further admissions to EU

membership in the short term.

The directorate­general for trade (DG

TRADE) is one of the Commission’s most

powerful departments, in part because it

has acquired powers to act on behalf of the

whole EU, in part because trade is so

important to both domestic and foreign

policy. Trade has long been an important

instrument of foreign policy (witness the

use of trade disputes in recent

confrontations with Russia) and it is also

now increasingly bound up with

development policy.

Additionally, there are various significant

parts of other Commission departments

that have an international dimension:

agriculture; maritime affairs and fisheries;

environment; climate action; migration and

home affairs; mobility and transport;

energy; economic and monetary affairs;

research and innovation.

Depending on the state of international

negotiations (or international disputes), the

foreign policy aspects of these policy

departments will fluctuate, but overall it

becomes obvious that coherent EU foreign

policy depends on co­ordination of the

Commission’s international work with that

of the EEAS and the Council of Ministers.

16

One of the optimistic features of Juncker I

is that the reorganisation of the European

commissioners into teams offers a serious

prospect of developing a team of

commissioners working on aspects of

foreign policy. If such teamwork becomes

the norm across the whole Commission (see

pages 10­11) there is a greater prospect of it

being established in the field of foreign

policy. In theory, that possibility existed in

the last Commission; in practice, Ashton did

not make it happen. This time round, it

seems more likely that Mogherini will make

greater use of the likes of Johannes Hahn,

Neven Mimica, Christos Stylianides and

Cecilia Malmström. Just as importantly,

Manservisi and Alain Le Roy, the incoming

secretary­general of the EEAS, should be

able to co­ordinate their work with

Commission departments.


VICE-PRESIDENT

Kristalina Georgieva

Budget and human resources

Country Bulgaria

Born Sofia, 13 August 1953

Political affiliation None

Twitter

@KGeorgievaEU

Kristalina Georgieva’s career as a

European commissioner began so

suddenly that her then 89­year­old

mother Minka learned the news from the

television. The economist received a 3am

phone­call from Bulgaria’s prime minister,

Boyko Borisov, and within hours she was on

a plane from the United States to Europe.

The sense of urgency was real. Bulgaria’s

first choice for the Commission in 2009,

Rumiana Jeleva, had performed disastrously

in her European Parliament hearing and the

appointment of the new Commission had

been put on hold until the country put

forward another candidate. Georgieva, who

at the time was vice­president of the World

Bank, did not hesitate to accept the role. “I

agreed to become a commissioner because

the situation wasn’t good for Bulgaria and

there was a possibility of our reputation

being hurt,” she said.

Georgieva’s 2014 promotion to one of the

Commission’s most important vice

presidencies, overseeing the budget and

human resources portfolio, was a reward

for her success in the last Commission,

when she was in charge of international

co­operation, humanitarian aid and crisis

response. She is today the most senior

technocrat in the Commission, one of only

two of the seven vice­presidents never to

have served as a national minister.

Georgieva is the great­granddaughter of

Ivan Karshovski, a 19th­century

revolutionary considered to be one of the

founding fathers of Bulgaria. While

Georgieva grew up in a family with a proud

history, her background was, in other

respects, ordinary. Her mother ran a shop in

Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, while her father

was a construction engineer.

At university in Sofia, Georgieva made a

name for herself as a budding economist.

But she also used her time to write poetry,

play the guitar (the Beatles were a

favourite), cook and dance. She remained at

the same university for 16 years, producing

a work on economics that remains a

standard textbook. She specialised,

however, in environmental economics,

writing her doctorate linking environmental

protection policy and economic growth in

the United States.

After the collapse of communism,

Georgieva’s academic career took her, as a

visiting scholar and professor, to the US,

Europe and the Pacific. But she also

developed a line as a consultant, bringing

her into contact with the World Bank. That

relationship turned into a 16­year career

which took her around the world, running

World Bank programmes. She also set up a

Bulgarian folk dance group at the World

Bank’s headquarters in Washington DC.

Georgieva seems to have left behind a

consistently positive impression. Many

described her as a woman who manages

with an iron fist inside a velvet glove,

someone of inexhaustible energy who can

chafe at slow progress.

Despite her long absence from Bulgaria,

Georgieva’s voice has been heard in her

home country. Her high profile prompted

Borisov to consider her for the post of

finance minister in 2009, but she chose

instead to act as an adviser.

That association with Borisov might

suggest her politics are centre­right. Ivan

CV

2010-14 European commissioner for

international co-operation, humanitarian

aid and crisis response

2008-10 Vice-president and corporate

Secretary of the World Bank

2007-08 World Bank director for

strategy and sustainable development

2004-07 World Bank director for Russia

2000-04 World Bank director for

environmental strategy

1983-99 Environmental economist,

senior environmental economist, sector

manager, sector director at the World

Bank

1992 Consultant, Mercer Management

Consulting

1987-88 Research fellow, London School

of Economics and Political Science

1986 PhD in economics, University of

National and World Economy

1977-93 Assistant professor/associate

professor, University of National and

World Economy

1976 Master’s degree in political

economy and sociology, University of

National and World Economy

Kostov, a former prime minister and fellow

student at university, says otherwise.

“Although she has very leftist beliefs, she is

undoubtedly competent,” says Kosov, who

now leads the right­wing Democrats for a

Strong Bulgaria. What interests Georgieva

are solutions, rather than politics. “For me,

a problem exists to be solved,” she says.

A strong performance in her first term as

a commissioner, and as someone with

experience of managing €20 billion in

World Bank programmes, should help

Georgieva deal with the EU’s regular,

inter­institutional battles over the make­up

of the budget which have now become her

area of responsibility.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Mariana Hristcheva

Deputy head of cabinet

Andreas Schwarz

Cabinet members

Elisabeth Werner

Sophie Alexandrova

Dimo Iliev

Michael Jennings

Angelina Gros-Tchorbadjiyska

Daniel Giorev

Georgieva has chosen to retain fellow

Bulgarian Mariana Hristcheva, her chief

of staff in the Barroso II Commission.

Andreas Schwarz, her deputy chief of

staff from Germany, was previously a

member of the cabinet of the budget

commissioner from Poland, Janusz

Lewandowski and his replacement,

Jacek Dominik. Michael Jennings,

previously the spokesperson for former

research commissioner Máire

Geoghegan-Quinn, is Georgieva’s

communications adviser.

17


VICE-PRESIDENT

A

Digital single market

ndrus Ansip

Country Estonia

Born Tartu, 1 October 1956

Political affiliation ALDE

Twitter

@Ansip_EU

The 2014 resignation of Andrus Ansip

marked the end of an era. Not only

had he been the longest­serving prime

minister in Estonia’s history, he had also

been the safe pair of hands who had

shepherded the country through the

crippling 2008­09 recession. Ansip had

staked his career on beating the recession

and the country had come out on top –

even as the popularity of his right of centre

Estonia Reform Party was in decline.

Yet Ansip’s time at Estonia’s helm during

the crisis did not get off to a flying start.

While a burgeoning budget deficit required

wholesale slashing, the person the

conservative Ansip relied on most – his

finance minister, Ivari Padar – had become

distracted. Padar was top of the Social

Democrats’ list for the European Parliament

election and, detractors claimed, had lost

focus. The tension between the two men

erupted at a press conference, when they

began bickering in front of astonished

journalists.

For the usually unflappable Ansip, it was

the last straw. He fired Padar and two other

ministers (thereby losing his majority in the

parliament), took much of Padar’s work on

himself and drafted drastic spending cuts.

It was a gamble, but one that eventually

paid off: Estonia’s quarterly gross domestic

product grew by 2.6% in the last three

months of 2009 (the best result in the EU,

said Eurostat, the European Commission’s

statistical office). At a time when the euro

was languishing, Estonian fiscal policy in

2009 – with low government debt and the

EU’s third smallest deficit – became

something of a guidepost for less disciplined

European countries.

Ansip had been leading the country since

2005, and whatever his achievements in

fending off the recession, by 2014 his

government was on the wane. Ansip

realised he had reached the end of the line

and that only a fresh face could reverse the

party’s fortunes at the 2015 elections.

Born, raised and educated in Tartu, a

quintessential university town, Ansip

abandoned his career in organic chemistry

in the first years of Estonian independence,

entering the world of business and banking.

With his prodigious memory for numbers

and a scientist’s skill at hair­splitting

18

analysis, he would have felt at home in the

financial sector. In English (his other foreign

languages are Russian and German), Ansip is

known to rattle off statistics like a walking

almanac.

In 1998, Ansip was elected mayor of Tartu,

Estonia’s second­largest city. It was a post

that helped him ascend the ranks of the

centre­right Reform Party and, in 2004, he

moved to Tallinn after being appointed

economy minister (he spends his weekends

in Tartu with his wife Anu, a gynaecologist,

and the youngest of their three daughters).

Personality has played a role in Ansip’s

staying power. “Andrus is, in a certain way,

a take­it­or­leave­it type of person,” said

Igor Grazin, a party colleague. “He usually

doesn’t have a secondary motive. Even

people who don’t like him generally support

him, or at least respect him.”

Ansip headed his party’s list for the

European elections last year and was later

nominated as Estonia’s commissioner by his

successor as prime minister, the 35­year­old

Taavi Rõivas. Given that Andris comes from

one of the most digitally connected

countries in the world, where citizens can

vote online and wi­fi is omnipresent, it is

not difficult to understand why Jean­Claude

Juncker appointed him to be vice­president

for the digital single market.

CV

2014 Elected as a member of the

European Parliament

2014 Member of the Estonian parliament

2005-14 Prime minister

2004-05 Minister of economic affairs

and communications

1998-2004 Mayor of Tartu

1994-95 Deputy head of Tartu

department, North Estonian Bank

1993-94 Board member, Rahvapank

1992 Degree in business management,

York University, Toronto

1983-86 Senior engineer, Institute of

General and Molecular Pathology, Tartu

State University

1979 Degree in organic chemistry, Tartu

State University

The key question now is how Ansip shares

this post with Günther Oettinger, the

commissioner for the digital agenda. Ansip

has not been one to share the spotlight in

the past and already there has been the

appearance of tension between the two

men. Oettinger reportedly characterised

Ansip as his ‘assistant’ during a closeddoors

meeting in Berlin last year, implying

that the role of vice­president – which on

paper gives Ansip oversight of digital policy

– was merely ceremonial.

Oettinger may be in for a shock: having

guided Estonia through a difficult economic

period, Ansip is unlikely to settle for being a

wallflower in the coming term.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Juhan Lepassaar

Deputy head of cabinet

Kamila Kloc

Cabinet members

Laure Chapuis

Jörgen Gren

Aare Järvan

Hanna Hinrikus

Jasmin Battista

Jeremy Smith

Maximilian Strotmann

Ansip’s private office is headed by Juhan

Lepassaar, a young Estonian who

worked in the office of Siim Kallas, who

served two terms as commissioner.

There are former members of Kallas’s

private office working for Ansip,

including Laure Chapuis, Max

Strotmann and Hanna Hinrikus. One of

the main players in the team is Jörgen

Gren, a Swedish official who worked in

the department for communications

networks, content and technology and

was the spokesman for the Swedish

government when it held the presidency

of the Council of Ministers in 2009.


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19


VICE-PRESIDENT

Maroš Sefčovič ˇ

Energy union

Country Slovakia

Born Bratislava, 24 July 1966

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@MarosSefcovic

Maroš Šefčovič’s competence in his

first term as a European

commissioner made him a

respected member of Jean­Claude Juncker’s

team. After being given the transport and

space portfolio, and impressing the

European Parliament’s transport committee

during his hearing, he was moved to the

role of vice­president for energy union

when Jean­Claude Juncker was forced to

shuffle the pack after Alenka Bratušek’s

disastrous performance in front of MEPs.

The transport committee was so upset at

the thought of losing Šefčovič that it wrote

to Juncker asking that he be kept on. The

committee did not get its way, and Šefčovič

impressed in his second parliamentary

hearing despite having just four days to

swot up on EU energy policy. It helped that

in the previous Commission his

responsibilities included relations with the

European Parliament.

Fate has repeatedly placed Šefčovič in

dramatic situations and his rise is all the

more remarkable because he comes from

the wrong side of the tracks. His mother

worked in the post office and his father

was, he says, a tough and self­made man

from a background devoid of privilege. But

his parents had high expectations of their

son, and he responded. He overcame his

childhood shyness as his sporting talents

emerged: he used to run the 100 metres in

less than 11 seconds and still enjoys tennis,

jogging and skiing.

He won such high grades in economics

and journalism in his first undergraduate

year in Bratislava that he was selected for

fast­track training as a diplomat. Sent to

Prague and then to Moscow, a new world

opened up to him. At the prestigious State

Institute of International Relations he

studied the works of British and American

politicians, learnt English and French,

attended lectures from visiting Western

professors and diplomats and had access to

material about the events of 1968 that he

was still unable to see when he returned to

Czechoslovakia.

With a doctorate in law to his credit, he

entered the ministry of foreign affairs as an

adviser, and was selected for a scholarship

at Stanford, where his teachers included

Milton Friedman, Condoleezza Rice and

20

George Schultz. His first foreign posting was

to Zimbabwe, followed by a promotion to

Ottawa – at which point, as Czechoslovakia

split, in 1993, he had to decide which

foreign service he wanted to stay with.

He chose Slovakia (“the more adventurous

option”), and within five years had risen to

the position of director of the foreign

minister’s office. In 1998, he came to

Brussels for a year as deputy head of his

country’s mission. After a brief spell as

ambassador to Israel and another swift

promotion in the foreign ministry, he

returned to Brussels to head Slovakia’s

mission, and – when Slovakia at last joined

the EU – as his country’s permanent

representative. In September 2009 he was

appointed to the Commission as a stop­gap

replacement for his departing compatriot

Ján Figel’, and spent three months in charge

CV

2010-14 European commissioner for

inter-institutional relations and

administration

2009-10 European commissioner for

education, training, culture and youth

2004-09 Slovakia’s permanent

representative to the EU

2003 Director-general of European

affairs section, Slovak foreign ministry

2002 Director-general of bilateral cooperation

section, Slovak foreign ministry

2000 PhD in international and European

law, Comenius University

1999 Slovak ambassador to Israel

1998 Deputy head, Slovak mission to the

EU

1996-98 Director and deputy director at

the Slovak foreign minister’s office

1992 Deputy chief of mission, Czech and

Slovak embassy in Canada

1991-92 Official, Czech and Slovak

embassy in Zimbabwe

1990 Adviser to the first deputy foreign

minister, Czech and Slovak ministry of

foreign affairs

1990 Doctorate in law, Comenius

University, Bratislava

of education and culture.

Educated among the elite in the dying

years of the Soviet regime, he was a

stagiaire in the foreign ministry in Prague

during the Velvet Revolution. He was

supposed, as a diplomat of a Soviet

satellite, to be a member of the Communist

Party, but the system collapsed before he

received his membership card.

Šefčovič has, therefore, packed an awful

lot into his life – he was born in 1966 – and

has made a significant mark in the

European Commission. Completion of the

European Union’s internal energy market is

a priority of the Juncker Commission and

Šefčovič could be just the man for the job.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Juraj Nociar

Deputy head of cabinet

Bernd Biervert

Cabinet members

Gabriela Kečkéšová

Christian Linder

Dagmara Maria Koska

Peter Van Kemseke

Manuel Szapiro

L’ubomíra Hromková

Šefčovič has kept on the majority of his

team from when he was vice-president

for inter-institutional relations and

administrative affairs. Juraj Nociar,

continues as head of his private office.

Bernd Bievert, a German who was his

deputy in the premanent representation,

continues as his deputy head. Other

members of the previous team include

Gabriela Kečkéšová, a Slovak, and

Christian Linder, a German official.


NUCLEAR ENERGY PLAYS A VITAL ROLE

IN BUILDING AN AFFORDABLE, SECURE

AND LOW-CARBON FUTURE FOR EUROPE

European Union (EU) energy policies are generally driven by three objectives: combating climate change; competitiveness

and security of energy supply. Nuclear energy is one of the main indigenous sources available to ensure Europe’s transition

to an independent, low-carbon and competitive energy mix. The technology, components and fuel needed for Europe’s

nuclear reactors can all be produced in the EU, helping to ensure security of supply.

“In the past two decades, indigenous energy

production in the European Union has steadily

declined (…) It is however possible to slow

down this trend in the medium term by further

increasing the use of renewable energy,

nuclear energy, as well as sustainable

production of competitive fossil fuels

where these options are chosen”

European Commission Energy Security Strategy,

28 May 2014

EU’s total primary energy production*

The nuclear industry in Europe

131

Nuclear power

plants in the EU

in

600 million

tons of CO 2 eg per year

avoided in the EU due

to nuclear generation

Essentially available

24/7,

365 days/year

14

EU Member

States

55%

of the EU’s

low - carbon

electricity

800,000

jobs supported by

the nuclear

industry in Europe

21%

Solid fuels

17%

Gas 10%

Oil

Westinghouse in Europe

62

1962

first Pressurized Water

Reactor (PWR) in

Europe was built

by Westinghouse

60%

of the nuclear power

plants in the EU are

based on Westinghouse

technology

22%

Renewable

29%

Nuclear

25

commercial reactors

designed and supplied

by Westinghouse

across Europe

4,000

highly-skilled and

trained people across

Europe, plus an

additional 1,500

contractors

About Westinghouse

Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of

Toshiba Corporation, is the world's pioneering nuclear

energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant

products and technologies to utilities throughout the

world. Westinghouse supplied the world's first pressurized

water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa., U.S. Today,

Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately

one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including

more than 50 percent of those in Europe. AP1000 ® is

a trademark of Westinghouse Electric Company LLC.

All rights reserved.

54 out of the 58 French reactors are based on Westinghouse

licensed technology.

65 nuclear reactors in Europe are currently fuelled by

Westinghouse (PWR – including VVER, BWR, AGR and Magnox).

We have operations in 10 European countries.

Our AP1000 ® reactor is the safest, most efficient and reliable

design currently available in the worldwide marketplace.

* Eurostat 2014

21


VICE-PRESIDENT

Valdis Dombrovskis

The euro and social dialogue

Country Latvia

Born Riga, 5 August 1971

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@VDombrovskis

When Valdis Zatlers, Latvia’s

president, announced in 2009 that

he was asking Valdis Dombrovskis

to form the country’s next government, no

one even knew the whereabouts of the

former finance minister and MEP. Then

suddenly Dombrovskis appeared and

bestowed upon journalists the day’s second

headline: if the next government did not

overhaul its budget immediately, Latvia

would go bankrupt.

The then 37­year­old was criticised for

scaremongering, while lawyers were quick

to point out that countries do not go

bankrupt, they go into default. Yet others

lauded Dombrovskis for refusing to sugarcoat

the message: Latvia’s economic

outlook was dire and getting back into the

black would be a “near­impossible” task.

As things turned out, Dombrovskis’s style

– bleak content, drab tone – did not

undermine his nomination and he became

the youngest politician to head up a

government in the EU. The prime minister’s

centre­right coalition went on to slash

spending while imposing a raft of austerity

measures that would have made most

European leaders baulk.

The story of Latvia’s economic collapse is

well known. Gross domestic product (GDP)

plummeted, hitting rock bottom at the end

of 2008. Yet by 2010 the economy had

largely recovered, while today Latvia is

outperforming most EU countries. GDP

grew by 4.8% in 2013 and 4.2% in 2014,

making Dombrovskis the poster­boy for

austerity policies.

The Dombrovskis era came to an end in

2014 when the government resigned

following the collapse of a supermarket roof

in Riga, which killed 54 people. While direct

responsibility for building standards lay with

Riga’s city council, Dombrovskis said he

accepted “moral and political responsibility”

for the disaster.

Yet Dombrovskis’s reputation as a

competent, tough­talking and at times

colourless technocrat who had turned

around a moribund economy emerged

unscathed. His choice as European

commissioner for the euro and social

dialogue was seen as largely unremarkable

and not even his unwavering support for

austerity was enough to give him much grief

22

at his hearing before the European

Parliament last year.

In a subdued – even boring – public

appearance, the attacks by MEPs appeared

to have little impact, with Dombrovskis’s

monotonous delivery betraying no emotion

at all. The commissioner­designate was

unwilling to reflect on the social impact of

unemployment and poverty caused by his

government’s austerity measures, saying he

did what he had to do to get Latvia through

the crisis.

However, in his final statement

Dombrovskis, who was an MEP between

2004 and 2009, sounded slightly more

conciliatory. He acknowledged MEPs’

questions about mistakes he had made,

saying that Latvia still needed to make

progress on dealing with income inequality,

strengthening the judiciary and stepping up

energy independence. “There are

shortcomings that Latvia should address,”

he said.

If Dombrovskis sounds more like a crusty

bureaucrat than a politician, there is a

reason for it: he began his career with a

four­year stint in Latvia’s central bank,

cranking out analysis on macroeconomic

indicators. It was a job that would have

bored most people to death, yet for the

CV

2014 Member of the European

Parliament

2014 Member of the Latvian parliament

2011-present Founder and board

member of Unity party

2009-14 Prime minister

2004-09 Member of the European

Parliament

2002-04 Finance minister

2001-02 Chief economist, Bank of Latvia

2005-07 Master’s degree in customs

and tax administration, Riga Technical

University

1993-96 Master’s degree in physics,

University of Latvia

1992-95 Degree in economics, Riga

Technical University

1989-93 Degree in physics, University of

Latvia

mathematically­minded Dombrovskis it was

a perfect match.

A physicist and economist by training,

Dombrovskis is arguably the most private

individual to have emerged from Latvian

politics in recent years. Even his former

party members confessed to not knowing

much about him.

He is married with no children and when

he is not crunching numbers he likes to play

basketball and ski. Dombrovskis is

reportedly meticulous and loves to engross

himself in the minutiae of state finance,

although one colleague said he could show

up at a party equally prepared with a good

joke and a poignant question on economic

policy.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Taneli Lahti

Deputy head of cabinet

Massimo Suardi

Cabinet members

Karolina Leib

Jan Ceyssens

Raquel Lucas

Elina Melngaile

Gints Freimanis

Žaneta Vegnere

Rita Voine

Dombrovskis has recruited Taneli Lahti,

a former member of the private office of

Olli Rehn when he was commissioner

for economic and monetary affairs and

the euro, to head his team. His

communications adviser is Žaneta

Vegnere, a Latvian who used to work for

the European People’s Party group in the

European Parliament.


VICE-PRESIDENT

Jyrki Katainen

Jobs, growth, investment and

competitiveness

Country Finland

Born Siilinjärvi, 14 October 1971

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@jyrkikatainen

By becoming Finland’s prime minister

in 2011, Jyrki Katainen brought his

centre­right National Coalition Party

(NCP) in from a long period out in the cold.

Over two decades had gone by since

Finland’s conservatives had last won a

general election and the centre­left Social

Democratic Party and the Centre Party had

come to be seen as the natural parties of

government.

Katainen’s conservative renaissance did

not come easily. The two months required

to form a government were the country’s

most protracted political negotiations in a

quarter of a century and Katainen ended up

leading a six­party coalition which, in

addition to the Social Democrats and

centrists, included the Left Alliance, the

Greens and the Swedish People’s Party – a

centrist group representing ethnic Swedes.

Observers largely agree that Katainen

displayed admirable patience and flexibility

at the negotiating table, managing to get

the ideologically disparate players to agree

to a ground­breaking policy programme,

called “An open, fair and bold Finland.”

Katainen was born in Siilinjärvi, a town of

20,000 people, 400 kilometres north of

Helsinki. The son of an aviation mechanic

and a secretary at the municipal council, he

embraced at a young age what he called the

“four pillars” of conservative values:

encouragement, education, tolerance, and

caring. He was elected to the municipal

council at the age of 22.

From there, his rise was inexorable,

although at one time he considered leaving

politics for the civil service. Instead,

supporters persuaded him to seek a

national stage and, in 1999, he was elected

to parliament. It was another four years

before Katainen, aged 32, sought the

chairmanship of the NCP, which was in

urgent need of a makeover.

The gambit paid off. In 2005 Katainen was

elected one of the vice­chairmen of the

European People’s Party and, in 2007, he

galvanised the NCP to a second­place finish

in the national elections, just one seat

behind the centrists. He was tasked with

heading the finance ministry in the fourparty

government and in 2008 the Financial

Times ranked him Europe’s best finance

minister.

Katainen made reform his signature

theme, saying in 2011 that “the existing

welfare state was designed for a very

different Finland from the one that is

emerging now”. A quarter of a century ago

there were approximately 100 taxpayers for

every 50 non­taxpaying residents, he

argued; by 2025, the ratio will be 100 to 70.

Once in the prime minister’s seat,

Katainen took swift action to consolidate

the budget through spending cuts and tax

hikes, before announcing more cutbacks. It

was bitter medicine for the Finns, but

Katainen, at the time the EU’s youngest

head of government, sought to administer it

gently. “The Finnish people seem to respect

the truth even though it is not pleasant,” he

told European Voice. “People are really

worried about the debt.”

By the summer of 2014 Katainen’s time at

the helm was drawing to a close. He let it be

known that he was interested in a European

role and his name was floated as a future

president of the European Commission. In

June 2014, when Finland’s former

commissioner Olli Rehn stepped down to

become a member of the European

Parliament, Katainen resigned as NCP

chairman and Finnish prime minister. He

CV

2014 European commissioner for

economic and monetary affairs and the

euro

2011-14 Prime minister

2007-11 Finance minister and deputy

prime minister

2006-12 Vice-president of the European

People’s Party

2004-14 President of National Coalition

Party

2001-04 Vice-president of National

Coalition Party

2001-04 First vice-president of the

regional council of Northern Savonia

1999-2014 Member of the Finnish

parliament

1998-2000 Vice-president of the youth

section of the European People’s Party

1998 Master’s degree in social sciences,

University of Tampere

replaced Rehn as the European

commissioner for economic and monetary

affairs and the euro, and Finland

re­nominated him for the following term,

when he was awarded the job of vicepresident

for jobs, growth, investment and

competitiveness.

Katianen comes with a reputation as a

budget hawk, which makes some nervous.

However, he has been keen to suggest that

he also believes in growth and is prepared

to countenance lateral thinking to bring it

about. One of his main tasks will be the

design and implementation of the EU’s

€315 billion investment fund.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Juho Romakkaniemi

Deputy head of cabinet

Hilde Hardeman

Cabinet members

Edward Bannerman

Miguel Gil Tertre

Valerie Herzberg

Heidi Jern

Aura Salla

Grzegorz Radziejewski

Jyrki Katainen brought the head of his

private office when he was prime

minister in Finland, Juho Romakkaniemi,

to head up his team in Brussels. Other

notable members include Hilde

Hardeman, a Belgian historian and

expert on Russia and Ukraine, as deputy

head of office, Edward Bannerman, a

former adviser to Catherine Ashton, and

Valerie Herzberg, who used to work for

Herman Van Rompuy.

23


WORK PROGRAMME

Change of direction

The first annual work programme

unveiled by the Jean­Claude Juncker

Commission was in many ways a

departure from previous practice.

For starters, the programme distributed in

December 2014 was much lighter than in

previous years. It listed only 23 initiatives

planned for 2015, compared to an average

of 130 new initiatives each year under José

Manuel Barroso, Juncker’s predecessor as

Commission president.

The 2015 work programme also listed

80 pieces of proposed legislation for

withdrawal. The average annual number

under Barroso had been 30.

“We are breaking with the practice of

listing everything for fear of being

incomplete,” Frans Timmermans, the first

vice­president of the Commission, told

MEPs when unveiling the work programme.

“Just because an issue is important doesn’t

mean that the EU has to act on it.”

He stressed that the Commission did not

include anything in the work programme

that it did not think could be dealt with in

2015, breaking with the previous practice of

listing all kinds of ideas but acting on only

some of them. That, Timmermans

explained, is why this year’s programme

was so slimmed­down.

The draft identifies ten areas of focus for

the Juncker Commission’s first year.

The new initiatives include a single market

for capital (see right), a digital single market

package (see page 26), an energy union

communication (see page 26), a labour

mobility package, a capital markets action

plan, and a communication on a “renewed

approach for corporate taxation in the

single market in the light of global

developments”.

24

A new boost for jobs, growth and

investment

A connected digital single market

A resilient energy union with a

forward­looking climate change

policy

A deeper and fairer internal

market with a strengthened

industrial base

A deeper and fairer economic and

monetary union

A reasonable and balanced free

trade agreement with the United

States

An area of justice and

fundamental rights based on

mutual trust

Working towards a new policy on

migration

A stronger global actor

A union of democratic change

The Commission is also planning to put

forward an agenda on migration and a

review of the EU’s decision­making process

on genetically­modified crops.

The programme also envisages a

“European Agenda on Security to address

threats to the EU's internal security such as

cross­border crime, cybercrime, terrorism,

foreign fighters and radicalisation”. This

agenda took on increased importance

following the shootings in Paris in January

2015.

Financial services

Creating a single market for capital is a

major challenge that the European

Commission of Jean­Claude Juncker

has set itself. But Jonathan Hill, the

European commissioner for financial

stability, financial services and capital

markets union, would also be kept very

busy simply by the raft of financial service

reforms introduced by the last

Commission – completing, implementing

and fine­turning the work.

The main item hanging over from the

Barroso Commission is a controversial

proposal that could hand the European

Central Bank the power to break up the

European Union’s largest banks, specifically

those considered ‘too­big­to­fail’. The draft

legislation, as proposed, would also ban

large global banks, which hold big consumer

deposits, from engaging in so­called

‘proprietary trading’.

The proposal was presented in early 2014

as an essential complement to banking

union, a vast regulatory project that brought

the largest eurozone banks and many noneurozone

banks under one regulatory

umbrella. Yet at the start of 2015, appetite

for imposing further reforms on Europe’s

banks was waning. Securing a strong deal will

be a major challenge for Hill, and how he

deals with that debate will be a significant

test of his influence and ability.

Hill has also promised to conduct a deep

analysis of the cumulative effect of recent

financial reforms on the financial sector,

with action promised if it proves overly

burdensome. Some of that work could be

done behind the scenes, since the new

Commission must adopt some 400

implementing acts in the field of financial

services.

The Barroso II Commission introduced the

idea of a banking union. In his election

campaign, Juncker promised to create a


WORK PROGRAMME

capital markets union (CMU). There is

widespread agreement that Europe’s

companies suffer from being too

dependent on banks for their financing

needs. A CMU would help diversify the

source of funding. But if Juncker’s diagnosis

is correct, the idea is far from new: a

genuine CMU would be remarkably similar

to the single market for capital promised in

Article 3 of the 1957 Treaty of Rome (now

incorporated into the EU treaty).

The proposal has nonetheless generated

plenty of interest from industry and MEPs.

The Commission is likely to focus first on

reforming the rules for securitisation and

reducing the regulatory burden for SMEs

looking to raise funding.

Another idea being considered is to make

it easier for pension and insurance funds to

invest in infrastructure projects.

The Commission’s plans will become

clearer when it publishes an action plan in

the autumn of 2015. This means that there

will probably be little legislative debate on

the CMU until the second half of Juncker’s

mandate.

See page 26 for more on

the 2015 work programme

25


WORK PROGRAMME

Energy union

One of the main priorities for the

European Commission in 2015 will

be completing the EU’s ‘energy

union’, an idea given added impetus by

events in Ukraine during 2014. Jean­Claude

Juncker indicated the importance that

he attaches to this idea by making one

of the Commission’s vice­presidents –

Maroš Šefčovič – responsible for energy

union.

In 2011, member states committed

themselves to completing implementation

of the EU’s internal energy market by the

start of 2014. That deadline was missed –

by a long way. At the end of last year, the

Commission delivered a bleak assessment

of the state of play. Today, Europe’s 28

national energy markets are related, but

not united. Member states have been slow

to transpose and implement transparency

and liberalisation rules. There are wide

variations in energy prices, reflecting

regulatory differences and imperfect

market liquidity across national borders.

Many doubt that the EU’s new energymarket

oversight body has a sufficiently

clear remit.

In February, Šefčovič come up with a

plan to get the EU’s energy union back on

track. It emphasises interconnectors

between EU member states. But this

will face some resistance from national

energy companies, particularly in France

where there are concerns about the

effect of cheap renewable energy coming

from Spain and Germany. Concerns

about energy security – particularly

disruption to supplies from Russia – might

not be enough to overcome such national

interests.

The Commission’s strategy identifies

five areas of focus: supply security, a

competitive and completed internal

energy market, moderation of demand,

decarbonisation, and research and

innovation.

26

Digital single market

Any political leader in the European

Union brave enough to argue against

the need to create a single digital

market can expect to be mocked as an old

fuddy­duddy who wouldn’t know his app

from his elbow. Which is why opposition to

breaking down those national barriers,

which are costing the EU an estimated

€250 billion of additional economic growth

each year, tends to occur behind closed

doors.

The political reality of the problem is no

mystery. The EU’s 28 national governments

have a myriad of rules for telecoms,

copyright, data protection – in short,

everything that is likely to get in the way of

tech­based start­ups. It means that the

advantage of having a common market of

500 million people is lost on tech start­ups

and anyone wanting to harness the

internet’s potential.

Part of the problem may be cultural, with

European businesses and bankers often

biased against small, nimble companies and

the young people behind them. But the

national governments’ reluctance to pull

down the barriers that prevent crossborder,

tech­based investment is what this

story is really about.

This is why the Commission’s

announcement that it will take steps to

bring about a genuine digital single market

is as ambitious as it is brave. In the list of

priorities published shortly before Jean­

Claude Juncker became the president of the

Commission, he argued that EU citizens

“should be subject to the same data

protection and consumer rules, regardless

of where their computer servers are based”.

These objectives are nothing new: the

former commissioner for the digital agenda,

Neelie Kroes, had banged on about these

issues for five years. Yet Juncker’s approach

of chiselling away at resistance rather than

confronting member states head­on may

give him room to move, with changes to

data protection rules, simplifying consumer

rules for online purchases and moves to

make it easier for tech innovators to start

their own company likely to be as good a

way forward as any.

Juncker will be able to rely on a zealous

digital convert at the heart of the

Commission. Ann Mettler is a former

outspoken critic of the EU’s lack of

progress on digital issues and she was

appointed in December 2014 to head the

European Commission’s European Political

Strategy Centre, Juncker’s in­house thinktank.

Yet the Commission has its work cut out

for it. According to figures compiled by the

Organisation for Economic Co­operation and

Development, 67% of European companies

have a website, but only 17% of them have

taken an order over the internet. What this

means is that business is failing to get a

foothold in international online markets –

leaving companies outside the EU to gain a

competitive advantage.


COMMISSIONER

Vytenis Andriukaitis

Health and food safety

Country

Born

Lithuania

Yakut, Russia,

9 August 1951

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@V_Andriukaitis

Vytenis Andriukaitis, the combative

new European commissioner for

health and food safety, is unlikely to

be daunted by any criticism that comes his

way as he attempts to reform the European

Union’s healthcare system: he has been

through it all before at home in Lithuania.

When Andriukaitis, a trauma and heart

surgeon, became Lithuania’s health minister

in 2012, he hurled himself into a healthcare

overhaul – an endeavour that was bound to

make him enemies. A mere six months

passed before lawmakers launched a noconfidence

motion against him, claiming the

minister was leading the sector to financial

and moral ruin. Andriukaitis welcomed the

move and even added his name to the list

of signatures needed to trigger the

procedure. For this life­long dissident, who

had been hounded for half his adult life by

the KGB, it was an opportunity to take the

fight to his critics.

He survived the eventual vote just as he

had survived Siberia, where he was born to

parents exiled by Soviet authorities, and just

as he later survived an arrest and harrying

by the KGB. He was 25 when he was

detained for dissident activities, having just

graduated from medical school in Kaunas.

The authorities “exiled” him to Ignalina in

north­eastern Lithuania, near the site of an

enormous nuclear power plant that was

then under construction.

This internal exile only motivated

Andriukaitis, who found time amid his

surgical duties to nurture a new­found

fondness for history. Though he wrote his

diploma dissertation on the medical history

of Vilnius in the 19th century, Andriukaitis

would much later use his nose for history to

combat historical revisionism and to remind

Lithuanians of their nation’s role in the

Holocaust.

Andriukaitis, who is married and has three

children, started supporting the leftist

model of statecraft early in life. When the

independence movement in the late 1980s

began to gather momentum, he called for

the restoration of the pre­Second World

War Social Democratic Party of Lithuania.

Over two decades of reform and market

economics failed to dent Andriukaitis’s

leftist, egalitarian convictions. On becoming

Lithuania’s health minister, he vowed to

correct the innumerable wrongs that, to his

mind, had led to a high mortality rate and

robbed many citizens of their basic right to

affordable healthcare.

“He has strong views and is not afraid to

speak his mind, and this has caused him

problems,” said one veteran Lithuanian

politician. Others confirm this intensiveness,

to the extent that Andriukaitis often gets

carried away and is reluctant to listen to

anyone else. Supporters say this is merely a

reflection of how passionate he is about his

beliefs and that, as a speaker of Polish,

Russian, German and English, he can be very

engaging.

There can be no doubt that Andriukaitis

has always been a fervent believer in

Europe. In the years leading up to

Lithuania’s 2004 membership of the EU, he

was chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s

European affairs committee and laboured to

ensure compliance with accession criteria

and stir up grassroots support.

Now the 63­year­old Europhile is a

member of the EU’s powerful executive

branch. Andriukaitis has outlined his

CV

2014 Vice-president of the World Health

Assembly

2012-14 Health minister

2008-14 Member of parliament

2001-04 Deputy speaker of the

Lithuanian parliament

1999-2000 Leader of LSDP

1992-04 Member of parliament

1990-92 Signatory of Lithuania’s act of

independence

1989 Founder of Social Democratic Party

of Lithuania (LSDP)

1984 Master’s degree in history, Vilnius

University

1975-93 Doctor and surgeon

1975 Medical degree, Kaunas Institute of

Medicine

ultimate dream of creating a single space

for healthcare services, particularly for

mobile Europeans. Considering this is a

marketplace with 500 million people and

that healthcare remains a sovereign

prerogative, this is an extremely ambitious

dream.

A more attainable idea would be to

improve the quality of healthcare in poorer

member states, but for this to come about

there will first have to be a system of

information­sharing in place. This alone will

put Andriukaitis’s talents of persuasion to

the test.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Arūnas Vinčiūnas

Deputy head of cabinet

Nathalie Chaze

Cabinet members

Paula Duarte Gaspar

Vilija Sysaité

Arūnas Ribokas

Jurgis Gurstis

Annika Nowak

Marco Valletta

The head of Andriukaitis’s private office

is Arūnas Vinčiūnas, who was

previously Lithuania’s deputy permanent

representative to the EU. His deputy is

Nathalie Chaze, a French official from

the Commission’s health department

who was head of unit for healthcare

systems. Paula Duarte Gaspar, who is

Portuguese, was previously in the office

of Tonio Borg and John Dalli, the

previous commissioners for health.

27


COMMISSIONER

Miguel Arias Cañete

Climate action and energy

Country Spain

Born Madrid, 24 February 1950

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@MAC_Europa

Miguel Arias Cañete’s road towards

the European Commission was

littered with controversy. His long

and colourful career in politics, his bizarre

macho comments about the difficulty of

debating with women, his shareholdings in

two petrol companies – it was all on display

as increasingly belligerent MEPs clashed with

the veteran Spanish politician’s unbridled

charisma during his confirmation hearings. Yet

beneath the larger­than­life political figure lies

a law lecturer’s grasp of his dossiers and an

unwavering European vocation.

Arias Cañete entered the European

Parliament in 1986, the year Spain joined the

European Economic Community. He was a

Spanish senator at the time and was

nominated to go to Brussels because he

spoke several languages and had taught

European law.

Arias Cañete, the youngest member of the

Spanish centre­right delegation, rose quickly

during his 13 years at the European

Parliament. He was a prominent member of

the agricultural committee from 1988­92, at a

time when EU agricultural policy was

undergoing major reform. He would also chair

the fisheries committee and later chaired the

regional policy committee.

That interest in both the food­chain and the

countryside stayed with him throughout his

subsequent political career. In 2000, José

Maria Aznar, the first centre­right prime

minister in Spain’s EU­era, made Arias Cañete

minister for agriculture, fisheries and food, a

position he regained under the next centreright

premiership, that of Mariano Rajoy,

which began in 2011.

Being minister for food in Spain is a

particularly visible role, and one to which

Arias Cañete’s bonhomie was ideally suited.

He is well remembered for eating steaks to

reassure consumers that Spanish beef was

safe despite the discovery of mad cow disease

in Spain.

Arias Cañete’s relative popularity among the

electorate comes from him being perceived as

campechano, or ‘a good guy.’ He enjoys

eating and drinking, and champions the Jerez

wine of his region. Arias Cañete used to drive

racing cars and is known for his collection of

classic cars. He describes tinkering with them

over the weekend as his number one pastime.

In person, he is an animated story­teller

28

with a gruff, easy laugh. Yet his charisma

masks a sharp intellect.

His knowledge of EU agricultural policy and

negotiations made him an obvious choice as

agriculture minister, an important dossier in

Spain, which is the EU’s second largest

recipient of agricultural funds. Yet accusations

of conflict of interest have dogged much of

Cañete’s political career because of the way

in which his political interests have overlapped

with his family’s business interests, in

particular in the agricultural sector.

It was his and his family’s shareholdings in

two petrol storage firms that sparked

indignation among MEPs from the centre­left

and the Greens during his confirmation

hearing at the Parliament.

Arias Cañete’s judgment also came up short

during the election campaign for May’s

European Parliament elections. Following a

debate with Elena Valenciano, a centre­left

MEP, that the head of the centre­right’s list

was widely perceived to have lost, Cañete said

on morning television: “Debating with a

woman is complicated. If you show intellectual

superiority or corner her, you are a macho.”

CV

2014 Elected as a member of the

European Parliament

2011-14 Agriculture, food and

environment minister

2008-11 President of the joint committee

of the European Union, Spanish congress

2004-08 Executive secretary for

economic and employment affairs,

People’s Party

2004-08 Representative for Cádiz,

Spanish congress

2000-04 Agriculture, fisheries and food

minister

1999-2000 State attorney

1994 Town councillor, Jerez de la

Frontera

1986-99 Member of the European

Parliament

1982-86 Member of regional parliament

of Andalisia

1979-82 Professor in civil law, University

of Jerez de la Frontera

1975-82 State attorney

1971 Law degree, Complutense

University of Madrid

The comments spurred international

headlines and Arias Cañete quickly

apologised.

That does not mean that he will not be a

successful commissioner for energy. Skills

that were valued in the Spanish cabinet have

already begun to shine through in Brussels,

where he is backed by a competent team.

“Most people who were critical of his

nomination are rather pleasantly surprised,”

says Gerben­Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch liberal

MEP who travelled to Lima with several MEPs

and Arias Cañete for the 2014 United Nations

climate summit. He says that Arias Cañete

made member states feel valued in the

negotiations, has “a very charming style” and

can “be tough when needed”.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Cristina Lobillo Borrero

Deputy head of cabinet

Pierre Schellekens

Cabinet members

Yvon Slingenberg

Isaac Valero Ladron

Silvia Bartolini

Gonzalo de Mendoza Asensi

Joachim Balke

Alexandra Marten Carrascosa

Arias Cañete has a healthy national and

gender mix in his cabinet. Cristina

Lobillo Borrero from Spain, his chef de

cabinet, previously served as head of

unit in the Commission’s trade

department. Senior adviser Yvon

Slingenberg, from the Netherlands,

previously served as head of unit for ETS

implementation. Isaav Verlo Ladron,

previously the spokesperson for Connie

Hedegaard, the commissioner for

climate action, is Cañete’s

communications adviser.


Dear Commissioner Arias Cañete,

We wish you every success in your role as European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy.


support the concept of an energy union.


measures, as well as research, development and the demonstration of low-carbon energy


competitive prices, and to drive Europe’s economic growth, trigger investment and increase

employment, such an energy union would need to focus on these three priorities:

Energy Market Integration – A well-functioning and coordinated European market

supported by the necessary cross-border infrastructure.

Cooperation – Stronger regional cooperation and solidarity among Member States in

implementing energy policy, delivered through commercial agreements and made easier

by cross-border energy trade.


of both indigenous production and imports.

At Eurogas we passionately believe that gas has a vital role to play in helping Europe meet

its challenges now and in the future.

In power generation

Gas as a fuel for heating

combination with renewables, by upgrading home and industry heating appliances to modern,


In transport

rail, inland waterways and maritime transport. Available technology and the increasing network


quality and the climate.

Eurogas is fully committed to help shape an energy union that makes Europe’s energy more

secure, more affordable and more sustainable.

Gertjan Lankhorst,

President of Eurogas

www.eurogas.org

@eurogas_eu

29


COMMISSIONER

Dimitris Avramopoulos

Migration, home affairs and citizenship

Country Greece

Born Athens, 6 June 1953

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@Avramopoulos

If there had been any lingering doubts

about the political sensitivity of the

portfolio awaiting Dimitris

Avramopoulos, the centre­right Greek

politician’s parliamentary hearing last

September should have put them to rest. As

MEPs attempted to turn up the heat on the

dapper former mayor of Athens, the three

distinct policy areas of security, legal

migration, and asylum­seekers quickly

became a scrambled mess.

While Avramopoulos arguably added to

the confusion with some policy freelancing

about the right to seek asylum at European

embassies, he also appeared to be outlining

what the unwieldy portfolio of migration,

home affairs and citizenship policy

desperately needs: a narrative. “Those

knocking at our door are not potential

terrorists – they are people fleeing dangers

that they know better than us and they ask

for our solidarity,” he told MEPs.

Avramopoulos accepts that he has his

work cut out if he wants the migration

policy objectives outlined by Jean­Claude

Juncker to see the light of day. In particular,

he needs to proceed with the planned rootand­branch

reform of the EU’s embryonic

legal migration agreements at a time when

the conversation over migration is being

clouded by issues of security and a growing

asylum­seeker emergency in the

Mediterranean.

Avramopoulos was born in Athens but

spent his early years close to his mother’s

home town in Arcadia. The family moved to

Athens where, as a high school student,

Avramopoulos says he suffered a lifechanging

failure. His first attempt to pass

the exams to get into university was

unsuccessful – prompting him to reassess

his life. He then worked full­time while

studying for university at night. His day­job

was with the Australian embassy, where

one of his daily tasks was to collect the

diplomatic mailbag from the airport. This is

where Avramopoulos learned to speak

English and he has been told he still has a

slight Australian inflection.

Avramopoulos’s 13­year diplomatic career

was that of a man in a hurry. After years of

service he was hand­picked to become a

special adviser on foreign policy for Costas

Mitsotakis, the leader of the centre­right

New Democracy party. Avramopoulos says

30

that throughout his career, he has never

over­thought any decision. “Instinct, in my

eyes, is that power which protects you from

logic,” he says.

It was gut­instinct that led him to quit his

job at the ministry, get himself elected to

parliament and, in 1994, stand for the office

of Athens mayor. Avramopoulos was reelected

with a landslide majority in 1998 –

his second term gave him the political clout

to launch the campaign to bring the Olympic

Games to Athens. As an urbane, multilingual

former diplomat (he speaks French, English

and Italian) he became a high profile

ambassador for the city.

Avramopoulos’s post­mayoral career

proved somewhat more controversial. In

2001 he left New Democracy to form his

own party, only to return a year later –

reinforcing a reputation for not forging

lasting alliances. In 2009, he harboured

hopes of becoming New Democracy’s

leader, but was ultimately forced to back

Antonis Samaras. Yet as minister in

successive national governments,

Avramopoulos navigated Greece’s

protracted economic and political crises

effectively, becoming defence minister

in 2011 and foreign minister in 2012

CV

2013-14 Defence minister

2012-13 Foreign minister

2011-12 Defence minister

2010-present Vice-president of New

Democracy party

2006-09 Health and social

solidarity minister

2004-06 Tourism minister

2000-01 President of the Greek Free

Citizens Movement Party

1997-2002 Member of the

Committee of the Regions

1995-2002 Mayor of Athens

1993 Director of the cabinet of Costas

Mitsotakis, then Greece’s prime minister

1980-1993 Greek diplomatic service

1979-80 Postgraduate studies in

international organisation, Boston

University in Brussels

1978 Degree in public law and political

science, Athens University

(before returning to defence).

His appointment as European

commissioner may be the crowning

achievement of a long career – unless, of

course, he finds something to top it.

Chatter out of Athens shortly after the

electoral victory of the far­left Syriza party

in January suggested Avramopoulos was

being considered for the role of Greek

president. The idea of a centre­right

politician being appointed to a key role with

the support of a far­left leader would, if

nothing else, be in keeping with

Avramopoulos’s political credo. “Democracy

is the political art of synthesis,” he says. “It

should give concrete results by putting

together different ideologies.”

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Diane Schmitt

Deputy head of cabinet

Polykarpos Adamdis

Cabinet members

Kostas Sasmatzoglou

Sofia Asteriadi

Olivier Bergeau

Ilias Papastamatiou

Chrissa Mela

Carine Cloot

Eleni Romaidou

Head of cabinet Diane Schmitt, from

Luxembourg, has spent most of her career

in the Commission. Deputy chief of

cabinet Polykarpos Adamidis is a legal

expert from Greece who was directorgeneral

of national defence policy in the

country’s Ministry of Defence. Kostas

Sasmatzoglou, the communications

adviser, served as the EPP's spokesman

and head of the press department in

2004-14. Sofia Asteriadi, the cabinet's

expert from Greece, was the assistant to

Stavros Lambrinidis, a former vicepresident

of the European Parliament.


COMMISSIONER

Elżbieta Bieńkowska

Internal market, industry,

entrepreneurship and SMEs

Country Poland

Born Katowice, 4 February 1964

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@E_Bienkowska

At the age of 29, with a master’s

degree in Iranian studies from

Kraków’s Jagiellonian University and

two small children at home, Elżbieta

Bieńkowska sat the entrance exam for

Poland’s National School of Public

Administration. She passed, but was

eventually turned down when the selection

committee wondered how she could

combine a career with family life. The next

year she was back, and when committee

members repeated their concerns she asked

them if they were putting the same

question to male candidates. They backed

down.

It was the start of a stellar career in

Poland’s public service – a career that

continues to define Bieńkowska’s identity as

European commissioner for internal market,

industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs. As

she has often stressed, she sees herself not

as a politician, but a technocrat, yet few civil

servants could boast Bieńkowska’s

popularity and public recognition. After she

was promoted in a 2013 government

reshuffle, the Polish edition of Newsweek

ran a cover story crowning her “Elżbieta I”.

Bieńkowska has indeed brought

something of the wonkish bureaucrat to her

political career – for example, when she

was minister for regional development in

2007­13 she developed a reputation as an

effective and meticulous manager of

European Union funds. Then, despite her

professed dislike for the limelight and party

politics, Donald Tusk – then Poland’s prime

minister, now the president of the European

Council – placed Bieńkowska at the centre

of the political cut and thrust by elevating

her to the role of deputy prime minister.

Tusk saw Bieńkowska as an asset for the

government and his party, Civic Platform, as

it strove to improve its poor poll ratings.

Whatever Bieńkowska’s achievements,

gender politics may also have played a part

in Tusk’s decision to name her to join the

college of Europesan commissioners. The

man Tusk had hoped would become the

EU’s foreign policy chief, Radek Sikorski, at

the time Poland’s foreign minister, had

caused concern among member states over

his strong anti­Russian rhetoric. The

nomination of a woman then gave Poland

its best chance of securing a high­profile

portfolio, after Commission President

Jean­Claude Juncker promised to reward

countries that put forward female

candidates.

Juncker also wanted high­profile

nominees and Bieńkowska was certainly

that in Poland. She had been in charge of

Poland’s infrastructure and development

super­ministry, formed from a departmental

merger announced in a 2013 reshuffle. With

1,600 employees and nine deputy ministers,

it was Poland’s second­largest department

after the ministry of finance. As minister for

regional development she was also in the

public eye, given that Poland has the largest

allocation of EU funds of any member state.

“Over the past six years Bieńkowska has

accumulated considerable political

experience without making any major

mistakes on policy,” said Wawrzyniec

Smoczynski, director of think­tank Polityka

Insight, last year. “With over­exposed male

politicians, it is often the opposite.”

Yet Bieńkowska’s reputation as the

ultimate policy wrangler and manager of

funds was hard­earned. Her first public

service job saw her work in the regional

administration in Katowice, in her native

Upper Silesia, where she rose to head the

department responsible for managing EU

funds. In 2007, she was summoned to

Warsaw and offered the position of minister

of regional development as what was

initially meant to be a temporary position to

CV

2013-14 Deputy prime minister and

infrastructure and development minister

2007-13 Regional development minister

1999-2007 Director of regional

development office for Silesia region

1999 MBA, Warsaw School of Economics

1996 Post-graduate diploma from Polish

National School of Public Administration

1988 Master’s degree in oriental

philology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków

sort out the pension system.

In Warsaw, Bieńkowska soon gained a

reputation as an effective manager.

“Colleagues do not implement her decisions

because she tells them to, but because they

are genuinely convinced of their validity,”

says Konrad Niklewicz, a Civic Platform

adviser who served as deputy minister of

regional development under Bieńkowska.

However, there is little to suggest

Bieńkowska’s public persona as a grey civil

servant has much sway over her private life.

She enjoys attending rock concerts and

reportedly once stayed out until 2am,

ahead of a 4.30am flight to attend an

important meeting in Brussels.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Tomasz Husak

Deputy head of cabinet

Kristian Hedberg

Cabinet members

Carsten Bermig

Justyna Morek

Fabrice Comptour

Jakub Cebula

Agnieszka Drzewoska

Bien‘kowska’s office is headed by

Tomasz Husak who was Poland’s deputy

permanent representative to the EU. Her

deputy is Kristian Hedberg, a Swede

who used to be head of unit in the

Commission’s transport department

dealing with land transport.

31


COMMISSIONER

Violeta Bulc

Transport

Country Slovenia

Born Ljubljana, 24 January 1964

Political affiliation ALDE

Twitter

@Bulc_EU

When the European Parliament

rejected Alenka Bratušek, the

former Slovenian prime minister

who had nominated herself to take up a

seat in the college of European

commissioners, many in the small Alpine

country hoped that the job would go to a

capital­P politician who could steer clear of

controversy. What they got instead was

Violeta Bulc, a trained shaman who teaches

fire­walking, holds a black belt in

taekwondo and had entered politics less

than a month earlier.

At first glance, Slovenian Prime Minister

Miro Cerar appeared to be thumbing his

nose at both the Parliament and the

Commission, whose president, Jean­Claude

Juncker, had asked member states to

nominate high­profile politicians to his

executive. But as Bulc began to meet EU

policymakers it became clear that her

background as a telecoms entrepreneur

from outside politics would be an asset and

there would be no repeat of Bratušek’s

train­wreck of a parliamentary hearing.

Yet in Ljubljana little was known about

Bulc, other than that she had briefly been

deputy prime minister in the unorthodox

Cerar government that had taken office in

September.

“After the hysteria surrounding the

Bratušek bid, the public and the media were

caught off­guard by Bulc’s nomination,” says

Andrej Lavtar, a former assistant in the

European Parliament now working in

Slovenian politics. “But they quickly

discovered her new­age background”, he

says – and that gave the story a new

narrative.

Bulc was under no illusion that she was

the most popular choice for the

appointment. The main groups in the

European Parliament had been urging Cerar

to put forward one of their own – Slovenian

centre­left MEP Tanja Fajon. But Bulc would

not be cowed, telling European Voice that

she “didn’t feel any warnings from my

subconscious” and accepted Cerar’s

appointment “on the spot”.

Bulc’s unconventional and non­political

background is not atypical of the

government formed by Cerar, a college

professor who came out of nowhere to win

36% of the votes in last July’s general

32

election. He had been part of a network

of citizens from all walks of life –

businesspeople, academics, journalists –

who met regularly to discuss the future of

the country. When Bratušek called a snap

election, Cerar’s supporters saw an

opportunity to put their ideas into practice

– and seized it.

Bulc’s worldview is heavily influenced by

time spent in the Bay area of California.

Born in 1964 in Slovenia, which was at that

time part of Yugoslavia, she became one of

the first group of students to enroll in a new

computer science course in Ljubljana. Her

interest in IT came in handy after her

studies when her then­husband was

transferred to Silicon Valley. Bulc worked in

the early 1990s for DHL Systems, analysing

the performance of wide area networks and

eventually obtaining a master’s degree from

a local university.

Bulc had expected her Commission

appointment to be as vice­president for

energy union, the post that had been

assigned to Bratušek. However, Juncker

decided to switch her to the transport

portfolio and allocated the vice­presidency

to the more experienced Maroš Šefčovič –

taking some of the heat out of Bulc’s

confirmation hearing. As for Bulc’s new­age

quirkiness, the media interest did not

CV

2014 Deputy prime minister;

development, strategic projects

and cohesion minister

2013-14 Chief of the Program

Committee, SMC Party

2000-14 CEO of Vibacom Ltd

1999-2000 Vice-president of Telemach

1997-99 Director of carrier business,

Telekom Slovenia

1997-99 Manager of institutional traffic,

Telekom Slovenia

1991-94 Expert for wide area

networks performance analyses, DHL

1991 Master’s degree in information

technology, Golden Gate University, San

Francisco

1988 Degree in computer science and

informatics, University of Ljubljana

resonate in her parliamentary hearing, with

fire­walking barely rating a mention.

Yet Bulc’s professional background would

have made the digital agenda portfolio a

better fit. When she returned to Slovenia in

1994, shortly after the country gained

independence, she worked at Telekom

Slovenia, helping to set up the country’s

first competitive telecoms market before

setting up her own telecoms firm,

Telemach, in 1999. However, political

realities dictated that her portfolio would

be transport and, despite her lack of

experience in the sector, she says she is

excited by the prospect. “It’s network logic,

connectivity, service layers, unbundling –

like we were doing in telecoms,” she says.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Marjeta Jager

Deputy head of cabinet

Désirée Oen

Cabinet members

Matej Zakonjšek

Damijana Pondelek

Nikolaus Von Peter

Jocelyn Fajardo

Andreja Kodrin

Natasa Vidovic

Bulc’s private office is headed by

Marjeta Jager, a Slovenian who was a

director in the transport department.

Her deputy is Désirée Oen, a Belgian

who was deputy to Siim Kallas and who

used to work for the Alliance of Liberals

and Democrats group in the European

Parliament.


COMMISSIONER

Corina Creţu

Regional policy

Country Romania

Born Bucharest, 24 June 1967

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@CorinaCretuEU

Corina Creţu’s path to the post of

Romania’s European commissioner

began in the unlikely corridors of the

Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Sent

as a journalist to cover a visit to the United

States by Romania’s president, Ion Iliescu,

she managed to collar US President Bill

Clinton. Brushing off the concerns of his

bodyguards, Clinton leaned towards her tape

recorder to declare, in effect, that Romania’s

hopes of integration with the West were in

good hands.

In Romania, the comment dominated the

papers and the airwaves, for this was 1993

and Romania had yet to apply for European

Union membership. Creţu returned to her

normal beat – political and social reporting

– in Bucharest, basking in her modest fame

and the pleasures of a job she would, she

says, have done for free. But then bad luck

struck for a second time. The first time,

aged 14, she had lost an eye, ending her

competitive basketball career. This time,

aged 26, Creţu was hit by a car and spent

months in hospital. It was at this point that

Iliescu’s office turned to her, asking for her

help with media work.

Creţu’s close identification with Iliescu was

soon clear. A journalist recalls her as being

“kind, ready to help in resolving technical

problems, but somehow I always had the

feeling she exceeded her job description in

‘guarding the president’s back’”. Creţu is

certainly adept at identifying the messages

that need countering: in 2012, when asked

to identify the main quality of Romania’s new

prime minister, Victor Ponta, she said

“honesty” – precisely the quality others said

Ponta most lacked.

Romanians commonly describe her as a

good communicator, and she also proved

good at building bridges within the fractious

socialists. She played multiple roles for

Iliescu. She was his scribe (in his media

team), then his voice (as his spokeswoman)

and then his ghostwriter (for his memoirs),

as well as one­time campaign manager. A

US diplomat additionally described her as

Iliescu’s adviser, a notion scoffed at by

Romanians: Iliescu is not a man easily

advised, they laugh.

Creţu parted ways with Iliescu, by then 74

and out of the presidency, when the

socialists, anxious for more women, asked

her to stand as a senator in Bucharest. But

while being a woman helped her enter the

senate in 2004, it might not have helped her

progress, because Romania’s parliament

was and remains crushingly male: in 2012,

just 11.5% of members in the two chambers

were women.

When she realised that Romanians could

join the European Parliament as observers

even before the country’s accession, she

seized the opportunity. One reason, she says,

was that she hankered after a more

international dimension to her work (though

she was on the foreign­affairs committee).

While an early arrival in the Parliament,

she was eclipsed by older compatriots after

Romania’s accession in 2007. Still, Creţu was

one of the few Romanians to secure a good

post, as deputy chairwoman of the

development committee.

By last May, Creţu was top of the

Romanian socialists’ list in the European

Parliament elections. The party’s

overwhelming victory put her in a good

position to become a vice­president of the

Parliament – which she did. In other

countries, she would also have been seen as

CV

2014 Vice-president of the European

Parliament

2011-present Vice-president of the Social

Democratic Party

2008-10 Board member, parliamentary

network on the World Bank

2007-14 Member of the European

Parliament

2005-06 Vice-president of the Social

Democratic Party

2004-05 Senator, Romanian parliament

2000 Member of the chamber of

deputies, Romanian parliament

2000-04 Presidential adviser,

spokesperson for the Romanian

president, head of the public

communication department

1993-96 Spokespersons office of the

Romanian president

1990-93 Journalist

1989-90 Economist

1985 Degree in economic planning and

cybernetics,, Academy of Economic

Studies, Bucharest

the probable next European commissioner.

Most Romanians, though, thought Dacian

Cioloş, a technocrat nominated by the right,

would remain as agriculture commissioner.

But Jean­Claude Juncker, the Commission’s

president, urgently needed another

woman.

Creţu mobilised herself to learn about her

dossier – regional policy – before the

parliamentary hearings. She emerged well.

Creţu needs pressure, says one of many

former aides; comfort and spontaneity are

her enemies. In her portfolio she is focusing

on the EU’s poorer, frequently rural areas.

She is emphasising the need for short, clear

messages. She needs to manage

expectations in Romania and, elsewhere, to

counter criticisms of the EU’s spending.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Mikel Landabaso

Deputy head of cabinet

Gabriel Onaca

Cabinet members

Ioana Rus

Dragoş Bucurenci

Jan Mikolaj Dzięciołowski

Tomáš Nejdl

Mathieu Fichter

Ioannis Latoudis

Corina Creţu came to office as (more or

less) a newcomer to regional policy. Her

team, by contrast, is packed with people

who have made their careers in regional

development, particularly her Spanish

chef de cabinet, Mikel Landabaso, a

Commission specialist in this area since

1990. Her cabinet is, otherwise, drawn

mainly from newer member states.

Romanians, naturally, feature

prominently, reinforcing Creţu’s links to

the government and to the socialist

party.

33


THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION 2014-19

Jean-Claude Juncker

President

Frans Timmermans

First vice-president:

Better regulation, interinstitutional

relations, rule of

law and charter of

fundamental rights

Federica Mogherini

Vice-president and

High representative of the

Union for foreign affairs and

security policy

Kristalina Georgieva

Vice-president:

Budget and human resources

Vytenis Andriukaitis

Health and food safety

Miguel Arias Cañete

Climate action

and energy

Dimitris Avramopoulos

Migration, home affairs

and citizenship

Elżbieta Bieńkowska

Internal market,

industry,

entrepreneurship

and SMEs

Violeta Bluc

Transport

Cecilia Malmström

Trade

Neven Mimica

International

co-operation and

development

Carlos Moedas

Research, science and

innovation

Pierre Moscovici

Economic and financial

affairs, taxation

and customs

Tibor Navracsics

Education, culture,

youth and sport

34


Andrus Ansip

Vice-president:

Digital single market

Maroš Šefčovič

Vice-president:

Energy union

Valdis Dombrovskis

Vice-president:

The euro and

social dialogue

Jyrki Katainen

Vice-president:

Jobs, growth, investment and

competitiveness

Corina Creţu

Regional policy

Johannes Hahn

European

neighbourhood policy

and enlargement

negotiations

Jonathan Hill

Financial stability,

financial services and

capital markets union

Phil Hogan

Agriculture and

rural development

Vĕra Jourová

Justice, consumers and

gender equality

Günther Oettinger

Digital economy

and society

Christos Stylianides

Humanitarian aid and

crisis management

Marianne Thyssen

Employment, social

affairs, skills and

labour mobility

Karmenu Vella

Environment, maritime

affairs and fisheries

Margrethe Vestager

Competition

35


COMMISSIONER

Johannes Hahn

European neighbourhood policy

and enlargement negotiations

Country Austria

Born Vienna, 2 December 1957

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@JHahnEU

Johannes Hahn has made a success of

being low­key. He was an unexpected

choice as Austria’s member of the

college of European commissioners in 2009

(he is only the third Austrian commissioner)

but impressed enough while in charge of

regional policy to be re­nominated.

There were concerns about his suitability

for the role he now has, as the

commissioner for relations with the

European Union’s neighbours and would­be

members. At his parliamentary hearing,

Hahn himself highlighted the principal

question­mark about his suitability: he lacks

“diplomatic” experience, he acknowledged.

He added: “I don’t want to be a bull in a

china shop.” But he gave an accomplished

performance before the European

Parliament’s foreign­affairs committee,

having clearly studied the main issues and

some of the footnotes about the 16

countries in the EU’s neighbourhood and

the eight countries seeking membership of

the EU.

Once confirmed in the role, Hahn said that

the Commission intends over the next five

years to adopt a “very pragmatic approach”

to would­be members of the EU, and that

he wanted to bring some of his experience

from business and from his five years as

commissioner for regional policy into his

new role.

Hahn never expected, let alone planned,

to become a European commissioner. But it

was no accident that his party, the

conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP),

turned to Hahn, given his staunch pro­

European credentials. In the 1980s, he

drafted the first European manifesto of the

ÖVP’s youth wing, where he was deputy

leader. Hahn adopted a decidedly pro­

European position at a time when many

within the party had doubts about Austria’s

accession to the EU.

Hahn is that rare breed of politician who

does not feel a constant need to talk. He

weighs his words carefully and is happy to

remain silent if he believes he has said what

needs to be said. People who know him well

describe him as very sensitive

At university, Hahn discovered that

philosophy suited him far better than law.

His whole outlook on life changed soon

after, however, when, aged 22, he was

36

diagnosed with cancer. “If you are

confronted with death, your priorities

change,” says Hahn.

The illness left Hahn a serene man. That

equanimity has turned out to be an asset.

He made his way in politics without striving

doggedly for the positions he won, in local

and regional government and as the ÖVP’s

regional head. “I have never aspired to any

post 100%, to avoid disappointment if

things did not work out the way I expected,”

he says.

A lack of political calculation may help

explain his decision to work, from 1997 to

2003, for a gambling business, of which he

became chief executive.

Hahn’s lack of pushiness is appreciated by

fellow politicians. But critics say he lacks

decisiveness, pointing, for instance, to his

tenure as minister for science and research.

University officials praised him for engaging

in open dialogue when, on three separate

occasions, students launched major protest

campaigns calling for free, unlimited access

to university education and for a bigger

budget. Others contend that, in one

instance, his long refusal to talk to students

who had staged a sit­in at Vienna University

allowed the dispute to fester.

CV

2010-14 European commissioner for

regional policy

2007-10 Science and research minister

2003-07 Member of Vienna regional

government

1997-2003 Board member, then CEO,

Novomatic AG

1996-2003 Member of Vienna regional

parliament

1992-97 Executive director, People’s

Party

1987-89 Secretary-general, Austrian

Managers Association

1987 Doctorate in philosophy, University

of Vienna

In his new role, Hahn will have to become

a diplomat; the EU’s approach to the

neighbourhood cannot simply be

technocratic. The easy manner in which he

handled the foreign­affairs committee

suggested the former municipal politician

will achieve the transition. But a hearing

before the European Parliament is small

beer compared to the burning, and

frequently explosive, problems that await

him.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Michael Karnitschnig

Deputy head of cabinet

Emma Udwin

Cabinet members

Hanna Jahns

Kyriacos Charalambous

Colin Scicluna

Christine Grau

David Müller

Michael Karnitschnig, an Austrian who

worked in the private office of José

Manuel Barroso, is head of Hahn’s

private office. Karnitschnig, who comes

from the Austrian foreign ministry, used

to advise Barroso on foreign relations.

Hahn’s deputy is Emma Udwin, a Briton

who worked for him when he was

commissioner for regional policy and

before that for Benita Ferrero-Waldner,

Hahn’s predecessor as Austria’s

European commissioner.


COMMISSIONER

Jonathan Hill

Financial stability, financial services and

capital markets union

Country United Kingdom

Born London, 24 July 1960

Political affiliation ECR

Twitter

@JHillEU

When Lord Hill of Oareford was

revealed as the UK’s choice for

European commissioner in July

2014, the reaction in Brussels came in two

forms. The first was the question: “Lord

Who?” The second was the observation

that, as the appointment of a conservative

government, he would have to be

Eurosceptic.

While the latter claim was quickly put to

rest by those who knew him, the ‘Lord

Who?’ quip did not appear to bother

Jonathan Hill at all. A former ministerial

colleague says he “absolutely does not seek

the limelight” and, as a result, he is

“consistently underestimated.”

Even before British Prime Minister David

Cameron took the unprecedented step of

voting against Jean­Claude Juncker’s

Commission presidency, it was assumed

that he would send a high­profile former

cabinet minister to the Commission.

Yet to the astonishment of many, when

Juncker unveiled his college line­up it was

the unflashy Hill who had hit the bullseye:

commissioner for financial stability, financial

services and capital markets union. The

appointment places Hill at the centre of

policy affecting the financial hub of the City

of London – something that would have

been well received at 10 Downing Street.

Hill studied history at Cambridge and was

persuaded to start a PhD. But he felt

unsuited to academic life and returned to

London in 1983, working in a bar, for banker

Jacob Rothschild and as an editor in a

publishing house.

Still restless, Hill was told by a friend who

had worked at the Conservative research

department to apply for a job with the

party’s internal think­tank and, in 1985, his

political career began. He moved to the

employment department as an adviser,

followed by three years at the departments

of industry and health before he quit to

work in the private sector. Two years later

he rejoined the government, this time at

the prime minister’s office – first in its

policy unit, then as political secretary for

the prime minister, John Major.

Hill left government in 1994 and, with the

exception of stints advising Major during

crises in 1995 and 1997, he stayed in the

private sector for 16 years. He and John

Eisenhammer, a former journalist, formed a

communications, advisory and lobbying firm

in 1998. So successful was Quiller

Consultancy that, within a decade, the

partners sold up to PR firm Huntsworth for

€13 million and Hill was looking forward to

spending more time with his wife and

children.

It did not happen. In May 2010, the newly

elected Cameron asked Hill to join his

coalition. He wanted a reforming but

consensus­building schools minister to steer

legislation through the House of Lords, the

UK’s upper house of parliament. Hill jumped

at the chance and did such a good job that,

in January 2013, Cameron chose Hill as

leader of the House of Lords, a role in which

he thrived.

When it came time to find his

commissioner, Cameron considered the

political advantages of several candidates.

But, in the end, he decided that there was

one thing he needed – a fixer – and one

thing he did not need – a by­election. Hill,

who as a lord could be replaced by

appointment, was the stand­out choice.

Since landing the job, Hill has impressed

with his open­mindedness toward policy

options as well as his political antennae. It

was those antennae rather than ignorance

that prompted his diplomatic evasion of a

question about ‘eurobonds’ at his first

hearing before MEPs – a politically sensitive

issue outside his remit. He knows these hot

CV

2013-14 Leader of the House of Lords

and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

2010-13 Under-secretary of state for

education

1998-2010 Director, Quiller Consultants

1994-98 Senior consultant, Bell Pottinger

Communications

1992-94 Political secretary to Prime

Minister John Major

1991-92 Government policy unit

1986-89 Special adviser to Kenneth

Clarke MP

1985-86 Conservative Party research

department

1982 Master’s degree in history, Trinity

College, Cambridge

political questions will keep coming but

understands that his five­year term will be

judged not on these ideological dividing­lines

but on its success in weaning the EU’s

private sector off excessive reliance on bank

finance and in creating sustainable jobs.

After a much smoother second hearing

before MEPs, the big challenge for Hill will

be to unpick national rules that guarantee

and protect capital markets, without

draining a future capital markets union of

the confidence that it will need to operate

effectively. For all this to be done in time for

it to have any meaningful impact on

Europe’s current economic woes may be

even more of a challenge.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Matthew Baldwin

Deputy head of cabinet

Nathalie de Basaldúa

Cabinet members

Denzil Davidson

Chantal Hughes

Sebastian Kuck

Mette Tofdal Grolleman

Lee Foulger

Hill’s private office is headed by Matthew

Baldwin, a British official who was

previously director in the Commission’s

transport department dealing with

aviation and international issues and was

earlier number two in the cabinet of

Pascal Lamy. Nathalie de Basaldúa, who

was head of unit for financial stability in

the internal market department and

before that head of unit for auditing, has

previously been in the cabinet of Charlie

McCreevy. Denzil Davidson was an

adviser to the UK’s foreign minister. Hill’s

communications adviser, Chantal Hughes,

who has joint British and French

nationality, was Michel Barnier’s spokesperson

when he was commissioner for the

internal market and services.

37


COMMISSIONER

Phil Hogan

Agriculture and rural development

Country Ireland

Born Kilkenny, 4 July 1960

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@PhilHoganEU

Few politicians set a job at the European

Commission as their long­term goal. But

Phil Hogan, the European commissioner

for agriculture and rural development, is a

rare exception. As long ago as the formation

of Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael­led Irish coalition

government in 2011, ‘Big Phil’ – he clocks in

at 1.96 metres in his socks – put his marker

down for the commissionership.

By the time Kenny had to make a

nomination, Hogan’s departure from Dublin

was desirable. For four years, Hogan had

fronted the government’s most controversial

proposals – water charges and taxes on

households and property. His role was as the

hard face of the government in imposing

water charges, which have triggered some of

the largest street demonstrations in Irish

history.

Hogan is known for throwing himself into

whatever he does and would have

committed himself with gusto to any

portfolio assigned to him by Jean­Claude

Juncker. That Juncker chose agriculture and

rural development for Hogan guaranteed his

single­minded attention.

Hogan, 54, was born and raised on the

family farm in rural Kilkenny in south­east

Ireland and briefly ran the business after

graduating from university. He joined

Kilkenny County Council at 22, became its

chairman at 25 and helped set up the local

branch of Young Fine Gael.

An unsuccessful bid for a parliamentary

seat in 1987 was swiftly followed by election

to the senate. Two years later, Hogan was

elected to the lower house (Dáil Éireann) for

Carlow Kilkenny and was appointed to a

string of frontbench jobs as spokesman on

the food industry, consumer affairs, and on

regional affairs and European development.

Early on, he developed a reputation inside

the parliamentary party for loyalty to the

leader. At the time that leader was John

Bruton, who was prime minister in 1994­97

and went on to head the European

Commission’s delegation in Washington, DC.

Hogan later showed the same allegiance to

Kenny. After Bruton won the 1994 election,

Hogan took a junior ministerial post in the

department of finance but was in situ for less

than two months.

Despite losing his government job, Hogan’s

reward for his loyalty and obvious political

38

talents was a promotion to the chairmanship

of the Fine Gael parliamentary party at the

age of 35. His six years in this job were his

political education, in which he learned not

just about the party leadership but its

organisation and roots.

After Kenny became Fine Gael leader in

2002, Hogan became his right­hand man and

the architect of the party’s rebuilding. He

knew all the branch chairs and councillors,

and was always on the look­out for talented

candidates. This diligently accumulated

knowledge bore fruit at the 2004 European

and local elections. Having done so much to

repair the party, Hogan was unhappy at

being removed as national organiser. But he

continued to stand by Kenny. Nine months

later, Kenny appointed Hogan minister for

the environment, community and local

government.

In July 2011, Hogan set out plans for a €100

annual “household charge” to take effect

from 2012 and then be replaced by a full

property tax. Hogan then announced the

creation of a new utility, Irish Water, to

oversee the installation of meters and

prepare for the introduction of water charges

CV

2011-14 Environment, community and

local government minister

2010-11 National director of elections for

Fine Gael

2002-07 Director of organisation for Fine

Gael

1998 Chairman of Kilkenny County

Council

1995-2001 Chairman of the Fine Gael

parliamentary group

1994-1995 Minister of state at the

department of finance

1989 Elected of lower house of

parliament

1987-89 Member of upper house of

parliament

1985 Chairman of Kilkenny County

Council

1983 Founded Hogan Campion

auctioneers

1981-83 Managed the family farm

1981 Degree in economics and

geography, University College Cork

– the first local taxes to be introduced since

1977.

Hogan developed a reputation as a

climate­change sceptic after he abandoned

legislation introduced in the dying days of

the last government by the Green Party – a

reputation Hogan has always denied.

Highly rated inside the Irish government,

Hogan’s image with the public is less

favourable, as a result of the taxes and

charges he introduced. But his ability to

focus on a dossier, a sympathy for farmers, a

willingness to navigate bureaucracies and

meet political needs while sticking to an

unpopular line are all virtues in his new role.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Peter Power

Deputy head of cabinet

Elisabetta Siracusa

Cabinet members

Dermot Ryan

Shane Sutherland

Tom Tynan

Cristina Rueda-Catry

Carl-Christian Buhr

Kevin Keary

Five out of the eight cabinet members are

Irish, including Hogan’s chef-de-cabinet

Peter Power, who worked for Chris Patten

and Peter Mandelson. The two women

are Italian Elisabetta Siracusa, the deputy

chef, and Spaniard Cristina Rueda-Catry.

The cabinet includes communications

adviser Dermot Ryan, a civil servant from

Ireland’s agriculture department who was

an attaché at Ireland’s permanent

representation to the EU. Tom Tynan

previously worked as an adviser to Ivan

Yates, when he was Ireland’s minister of

agriculture. Shane Sutherland previously

served in the cabinets of Charlie

McCreevy and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.


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39


COMMISSIONER

Vĕra Jourová

Justice, consumers and gender equality

Country Czech Republic

Born Třebíč, 18 August 1964

Political affiliation ALDE

Twitter

@VeraJourova

Czech coalition governments have a

record of choosing European

commissioners in slow and messy

ways and producing candidates with a

previously low profile. In 2009, Štefan Füle,

a career diplomat with brief ministerial

experience, emerged from the coalition’s

battles to take a post the Czechs were glad

to have – as commissioner for enlargement

and the neighbourhood policy. In last year’s

battle, the victor was a technocrat with

brief ministerial experience, Věra Jourová.

This time, though, the Czechs did not get a

post they coveted. The disappointment was

aggravated because the Czech government

had offered a candidate seemingly tailormade

to meet their needs and those of the

Commission. The Commission’s president,

Jean­Claude Juncker, needed more women

and the Czechs indeed had put forward a

female candidate. The reward the Czechs

wanted was the regional policy dossier, and

they tried to make Juncker’s choice easy:

Jourová has spent most of her life working

on local and regional issues, first in local

government and latterly as minister for

regional development for eight months.

Instead, the regional portfolio went to

someone with no experience of regional

development, Romania’s Corina Creţu.

Jourová’s compensation was a messy new

dossier, as commissioner for justice,

consumers and gender equality. This

portfolio pushes Jourová out of her comfort

zone and puts her into the tricky position of

answering to three of the Commission’s

seven vice­presidents.

While this looks very much like a secondtier

position, Jourová’s responsibilities

include some of the most politically

sensitive in the Commission. Jourová is

charged with handling reform of the EU’s

data­protection rules and negotiations on

the EU’s controversial data­protection

agreement with the United States. It is,

therefore, plausible that Jourová will

emerge as one of the most prominent

commissioners – or it may simply be that

her bosses will take the driving seat.

In this tricky position, Jourová’s success

may hinge on her ability to navigate the

EU’s institutions, her personality, her goals

and the support she can generate.

Jourová’s career has not given her much

40

public exposure – before becoming a

minister in 2014, her most high profile role

had been as deputy minister for regional

development for 15 months in 2004­06 –

and she remains a relatively unknown

quantity. She does, though, have plenty of

EU experience, which she gained by

managing EU money at home and by

working as a consultant on EU­funded

projects beyond Czech borders, ranging

from Romania (she speaks some Romanian)

to Belarus.

She is also described as personable,

attentive to detail and driven. Some

speculate her drive is fuelled by her

experience of Czech injustice. In 2006, she

was detained for a month on suspicion of

corruption. She was exonerated in 2008

and, in 2014, won damages of about

€98,500. In the meantime, she had gained a

degree in law and entered politics for a new

party that portrays itself as an antiestablishment

and anti­corruption

movement.

In practice, the party, ANO, remains the

lengthened shadow of its founder, Andrej

Babiš, a billionaire businessman and media

magnate. Still, some in Prague describe

Jourová – the party’s deputy leader until

joining the Commission – as independently

minded and relatively assertive.

She is a person with energy, but it is not

yet clear how she will use it. Support within

CV

2014 Regional development minister

2012 Law degree, Charles University

2006-13 Managing director, Primavera

Consulting Ltd

2006-11 Consultancy work in the

western Balkans

2003-06 Deputy regional development

minister

2001-03 Head of regional development

department, Vysočina region

1995-2000 Secretary and spokesperson

for Třebič Municipal Office

1991 Master’s degree in cultural theory,

Charles University, Prague

the Commission may also prove critical, as

her natural bases of political support are

weak. In the Council of Ministers, the

Czechs are handicapped by their initial

decision to opt out of the European charter

of fundamental rights and they have

relatively small stakes in her portfolio. In

the European Parliament, ANO is still a

newcomer, and the European group to

which it belongs – the liberals – is small.

Jourová is faced with many challenges,

has limited support behind her and will

have to rely heavily on own abilities. But it

would be a mistake to underrate her.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Renate Nikolay

Deputy head of cabinet

Daniel Braun

Cabinet members

Isabelle Pérignon

Eduard Hulicius

Kevin O’Connell

Simona Constantin

Monika Ladmanova

Fittingly, gender equality rules in Vĕra

Jourová’s cabinet, with four women in

her seven-member team. Two members

usefully combine substantial experience

in Commission cabinets with passports

from big EU states: Renate Nikolay, a

German who heads the cabinet, and

Isabelle Pérignon of France. She has

chosen three Czechs with links to

important constituencies – the Czech

government, the European Parliament,

and civil society – with a previous

colleague, Daniel Braun, as deputy chief

of staff.


COMMISSIONER

Cecilia Malmström

Trade

Country Sweden

Born Stockholm, 16 May 1968

Political affiliation ALDE

Twitter

@MalmstromEU

If Cecilia Malmström is daunted by the

prospect of having to finalise one of the

most far­reaching and politically sensitive

trade deals in world history, she was giving

little away at her confirmation hearing late

last year. While the Swedish liberal came

across as a committed free­marketeer, her

calm demeanour and matter­of­fact analysis

of the rocky road ahead earned her kudos

among members of the European

Parliament.

The polished performance also marked a

stark departure from both the substance

and style of her predecessor as trade

commissioner. As the backlash against

aspects of the proposed trade deal between

the European Union and the United States

rapidly intensified in 2014, Karel De Gucht

appeared on occasion slow to grasp the

job’s political imperatives.

It was a mistake Malmström appeared

determined to avoid. She happily

acknowledged concerns over a controversial

arbitration mechanism that was to be built

in to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment

Partnership (TTIP). Referring to the investorstate

dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS)

as “toxic,” Malmström even suggested the

legal framework under which corporations

could take legal action against governments

may be scrapped altogether. “Will it stay in

[TTIP]?” Malmström said at her hearing. “I

don’t know. Maybe not. But it is too early to

judge…”

The future of the ISDS is now unclear –

the valuable investment component of TTIP

is unlikely to get off the drawing­board

without an arbitration mechanism. But

Malmström’s readiness to put the issue on

the table while also offering MEPs some

soul­searching on the negotiations’ lack of

transparency was enough to signal a new

mindset on trade.

Then again, the pros and cons of TTIP had

all been aired before and Malmström’s

strong CV in Europe made her as qualified a

candidate as any to move the deal forward.

She is a former MEP, a former Swedish

minister for Europe, and was fronting the

hearings on the back of a widely praised

term as the European commissioner for

home affairs. She is also an effective,

multilingual communicator – something that

will come in handy when time comes to sell

TTIP to an often sceptical electorate.

In particular, the 46­year­old Malmström’s

strong connection with French culture will

be an asset, with French politicians often

flag­bearers for European concerns over

TTIP’s fine­print. Malmström lived in France

between the ages of nine and 12 when her

father worked there for a Swedish

engineering company SKF. She returned to

France when she was 19 to study literature

at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

After returning to her native Gothenburg,

Malmström worked as a psychiatric nurse, a

teacher and a university researcher before

completing her PhD in political science in

1998. Her thesis was, unsurprisingly, on

Europe: regional parties in western Europe,

focusing on Catalonia and northern Italy.

By this time, her political career within the

Liberal People’s Party had taken off. In

1999, she was elected to the European

Parliament on the coat­tails of the popular

environmental and food safety activist Marit

Paulsen. Malmström took to the Parliament

like a duck to water. Networking came

naturally to the MEP, who is often described

as sociable, cheerful, energetic and with a

sense of humour.

Perhaps the only thing Malmström is

more passionate about than Europe is

penguins. She collects them in almost any

CV

2010-14 European commissioner for

home affairs

2007-10 Vice-president of Folkpartiet

2001-10 Member of Folkpartiet (Swedish

Liberal Party) executive

1999-2006 Member of the European

Parliament

1999-2001 Member of Västra Götaland

regional council

1998-99 Senior lecturer, Gothenburg

University

1998 PhD in political science,

Gothenburg University

1994-98 Vice-chair of Gothenburg

Municipal Immigration Committee

1991-94 Lay assessor at Gothenburg

City Court

form: soft toys, plastic figures,

toothbrushes, chess games and more. Her

twin children, a boy and a girl, join in and

her husband Mikael stoically tolerates the

bird invasion.

She explains her slightly eccentric

fascination with penguins by observing that

they manage to brave a bitterly cold

climate in a barren landscape while being

very social, loyal and monogamous. “But

most of all, they seem to have so much fun

when they go belly­sliding down the ice,”

she says.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Maria Åsensius

Deputy head of cabinet

Miguel Ceballos Barón

Cabinet members

Christian Burgsmüller

Nele Eichhorn

Cecile Billaux

Jon Nyman

Joakim Larsson

Jolana Mungengová

Catrine Norrgård

Maria Åsenius, a former state secretary

for EU affairs in Sweden who was head

of Malmström’s office when she was

commissioner for home affairs, has

stayed on. Malmström’s deputy, Miguel

Ceballos Baron, was an adviser to

Catherine Ashton when she was the

EU’s foreign policy chief on EU-Asia

relations and trade issues. He also

worked in the economics department of

the Commission’s trade department.

41


SECRETARIAT-GENERAL

Behind-the-scenes power

The secretariat­general of the European

Commission is its central nervous

system. Others might less charitably

describe it as the central intelligence agency

– and would accuse it of spying on the

policy departments.

Such antagonism is a feature of many

organisations: the central core is unloved by

those on the periphery, who resent its

powers of control. But the organisation

could not function without that centre: it is

the secretariat­general that co­ordinates

relations with other EU institutions and the

outside world; it co­ordinates Commission

work, to ensure that what is supposed to be

done is executed; it arbitrates between

policy departments when they cannot

agree.

These are enduring functions, expressed

in different forms over the years as

management thinking changes. For

instance, nowadays the secretariat­general

draws up the Commission’s work

programme; it co­ordinates the reviews of

impact assessments for proposed

legislation; it compiles a synthesis report

from the annual activity reports of each

Commission director­general; it looks after

the Commission’s transparency register (run

jointly, with the European Parliament) and it

polices the code of conduct for

commissioners.

But the start of the Juncker Commission

has created a fresh challenge for the

secretariat­general, one that will test its

current structure and resources. Juncker

named seven vice­presidents and to most of

them he assigned overarching policy

responsibilities. So, for example, Andrus

Ansip became vice­president for the digital

single market, with seven commissioners

reporting to him on a range of different

aspects of the digital economy (see pages

10­11). But what Juncker did not do was

give the vice­presidents the resources of

their own departments, such as are enjoyed

by those commissioners reporting to Ansip.

Instead, he said that the secretariat­general

would provide the necessary back­up and

would assign resources.

Since then, the Commission leadership has

let it be known that it intends to move 80

officials to the secretariat­general to meet

this increased workload. The staff will be

moved from other departments. These reassignments

come on top of a Commission

commitment to reduce staff numbers by 1%

per year.

What is not yet clear is whether the

system of vice­presidencies that Juncker

has introduced will take root. It is arguably

the most important innovation in the

organisation of the Commission since the

admission of ten new member states in

2004 but there is no guarantee of success.

Whether it succeeds or not will depend a lot

on the secretariat­general’s ability to secure

the position of those vice­presidents. If the

secretariat­general cannot do so, then

Juncker’s theoretical hierarchy may be

eroded in practice.

Much will also depend on who becomes

the next secretary­general. Catherine Day

has held the post since November 2005, but

is expected to retire in the first half of this

year, having seen in the new regime.

Juncker and Martin Selmayr, the head of his

private office, will know the importance of

their choice. Day became indispensable to

José Manuel Barroso’s administration, to

the extent that the guidelines on rotating

CATHERINE DAY AND JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER

senior managers were ignored in her case

and she has held the post for more than

nine years. Juncker and Selmayr will

similarly need a secretary­general who can

work the Commission machinery so as to

deliver on their wishes.

Luis Romero Requena, currently the head

of the Commission’s legal service, must be

considered one of the front­runners. Michel

Servoz, the director­general for

employment, is also talked about.

Alexander Italianer, the director­general for

competition, is another contender, having

previously – like Servoz – been a deputy

secretary­general. His caution might count

against him, however, with Juncker and

Selmayr preferring someone more

adventurous. Their style is to conjure up

surprises.

42


COMMISSIONER

Neven Mimica

International co-operation

and development

Country Croatia

Born Split, 12 October 1953

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@MimicaEU

Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran

Milanović surprised no one when he

nominated Neven Mimica as his

country’s first European commissioner in

2013 – after all, the 59­year­old had been at

the heart of Croatia’s efforts to join the

European Union for longer than any of his

fellow countrymen. In 2001, Mimica had

been the chief negotiator on the

stabilisation and association agreement

(SAA), the first contractual step towards EU

membership.

As EU integration minister, Mimica

presided over Croatia’s application for

candidacy in 2003. Finally, as a deputy

prime minister whose portfolio included

Europe, he saw Croatia enter the EU in

2013.

Mimica’s appointment says a lot about

Milanović’s commitment to the EU agenda –

by sending him to Brussels, Milanović was

depriving himself of a trusted collaborator.

In Croatia’s political landscape, Mimica was

never a party animal and can be better

described as a technocrat with policy

expertise in the areas of public

administration and trade. And, while

remaining loyal to Milanović and his Social

Democratic Party (SDP), Mimica is widely

seen as autonomous, with his authority

rooted in his expertise and integrity rather

than in a party power base.

Yet his technocratic public persona comes

at a cost. A 2012 poll found that a third of

Croats had either never heard of, or were

barely familiar with, Mimica’s name. Of

those who knew him, an almost equal

percentage of the opposition and the

governing SDP voters approved of his work.

This is perhaps not surprising for a man who

has held important yet often technical roles

since graduating from Zagreb University as a

foreign trade economist.

The Daily Mail, a British newspaper,

greeted Mimica’s appointment as

commissioner as a case of a former

communist apparatchik now “telling us all

what to do”. It is true that in the late 1970s

and through the 1980s, Mimica – a son of

primary­school teachers – worked in

positions available only to party members.

None, though, was a leading ideological job;

rather, they were positions requiring

expertise for which party membership

served as a sort of basic security clearance.

After university, the multilingual Mimica

first worked for Astra, an export­import

entity charged with handling key trade deals

for the state. He was then a government

specialist on trade and foreign relations and,

between 1987 and 1991, he was a trade

diplomat in Yugoslavia’s embassy in Egypt.

The most controversial period of Mimica’s

life was the post­independence decade of

autocratic rule by President Franjo Tudjman.

Mimica served the Tudjman regime largely

in expert roles with little political reach: he

was a government trade specialist who

served stints as a diplomat in Cairo and

Ankara, before taking his first nominally

political role in 1997, as assistant minister

for foreign economic relations. After

Tudjman’s death in 1999, Mimica remained

in demand. In a universe populated by

forceful nationalists and early capitalists

intent on the plunder of public property,

Mimica featured in no public controversy.

Mimica led talks with the European

Commission on trade issues affecting

Croatian exports and jobs, while also taking

on a role as regional advocate. He argued

that Croatia’s EU integration would be

complete only once the whole of the

CV

2013-14 European commissioner for

consumer policy

2011-13 Deputy prime minister for

internal, foreign and European policy

2008-11 Deputy speaker of parliament;

chair of European Integration Committee

2004-08 Member of parliament

2001-03 European integration minister

1997-2001 Assistant minister, then

deputy minister, for the economy, and

chief negotiatior in talks with World

Trade Organization

1987-97 Diplomat for Yugoslavia, then

Croatia

1987 Master’s degree in economics,

University of Zagreb

1983-87 Assistant chairman of

committee for foreign relations

1978-83 Member of, then adviser to,

committee for foreign relations

1977-78 Import-export clerk, Astra

Balkans was in the EU and pledging that,

once a member, Croatia would never use a

bilateral issue to block a neighbour’s

progress.

While the image of the boring technocrat

is not easy to shake, Mimica’s interlocutors

regularly describe him as serious,

convincing and credible.

Though ambitious, Mimica is free from any

delusions about his own political appeal. He

is also cautious. In 2009, he was frequently

mentioned as a potential candidate for his

country’s presidency, yet he decided to

withdraw, reportedly after concluding that he

lacked the required public profile. A

successful stint in Brussels as the most visible

Croat in Europe could yet change that.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Nils Behrndt

Deputy head of cabinet

Irena Andrassy

Cabinet members

Maud Arnould

Maria-Myrto Kanellopoulou

Denis Čajo

Paolo Berizzi

Ivan Prusina

Mimica’s head of office is Nils Behrndt,

a German official who did the same job

when Mimica was responsible for

consumer policy. Behrndt is a

pharmaceuticals expert who used to be

in the enterprise and industry

department. Maud Arnold, a French

official, worked in the private office of

Andris Piebalgs when he was

commissioner for development.

43


COMMISSIONER

Carlos Moedas

Research, science and innovation

Country Portugal

Born Beja, 10 August 1970

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@Moedas

As a former investment banker with

Goldman Sachs, Carlos Moedas

knows how to sell. That skill was

evident in September 2014 during his

hearing to become European commissioner

for research, science and innovation, when

the Portuguese politician sold a European

Union narrative to die for.

Moedas opened the session with an

emotive account of his European trajectory:

from his childhood in a poor region

transformed as a result of EU solidarity

funds to his wedding in Paris and the birth

of two of his three children in London. He

spoke in Portuguese, English and French,

which he learnt as one of the first

Portuguese students to undertake an

Erasmus exchange, which in his case took

him to Paris.

That emblematic European path through

life earned Moedas warm applause at the

end of the hearing. The only real naysayers

seemed to be Portuguese MEPs from the

left and hard­left, who denounced him in

harsh terms.

They recalled his role in implementing the

tough austerity conditions attached to the

€78 billion bail­out given to Portugal in

2011. Indeed, at the time Moedas was the

minister in Pedro Passos Coelho’s centreright

government with responsibility for

negotiating and implementing the bail­out.

But while that was seen as a black­mark

against his name by some politicians, he

presented the experience as good

preparation for managing and administering

the EU’s research budget, which totals some

€80bn for 2014­20.

The European Commission of president

Jean­Claude Juncker has said that the

money must go further than it has in the

past, in particular by making more loans and

investments rather than allocating outright

grants. The commissioner must also ensure

that the EU’s money goes to the right

projects to kick­start a European economy

that is increasingly falling behind in terms of

innovation and research.

Moedas appears remarkably wellequipped

to tackle both of those points. He

holds an MBA from Harvard Business School

and studied engineering at the prestigious

French university École Nationale des Ponts

44

et Chaussées. He has first­hand experience

of complex financial engineering, having

worked at Goldman Sachs and for Deutsche

Bank, where he helped create Eurohypo, a

€200bn real estate monster. He also set up

a ‘business angel’ fund in Portugal to invest

in start­ups.

Moedas, the son of a communist

journalist and a seamstress, came to politics

late via António Borges, a Goldman Sachs

vice­president who was well­connected in

Portugal’s centre­right Social Democrat

Party. In 2010, Moedas became chief

economic adviser to Passos Coelho, at the

time the new leader of Portugal’s centreright

opposition. Passos Coelho, a former

youth president, management consultant

and an arch­free­marketeer, was elected

the following year.

Moedas played a crucial role in

implementing the international bailout that

the new government negotiated. Portugal

broke up cosy oligopolies in the telecoms

and energy sectors and introduced labour

reforms that helped boost exports. But it

also privatised some health services, which

CV

2011-14 Secretary of state to the prime

minister

2011 Member of parliament

2010-11 Senior economic adviser to the

Social Democratic Party

2008-11 Founded and worked at Crimson

Investment Management

2004-08 Managing director and board

member of Aguirre Newman

2002-04 Consultant, Deutsche Bank and

Eurohypo Investment Bank

2000-02 Investment banking associate,

Goldman Sachs

1998-2000 MBA, Harvard Business

School

1993-98 Engineer and project manager,

Suez Group

1988-93 Degree in civil engineering,

Instituto Superior Técnico de Lisboa

proved controversial, and failed to reduce

an unemployment rate that has hovered

around 15% since the 2008 crisis.

Despite the huge pressure on the

Commission to boost growth in the EU,

Moedas’s current job is unlikely to prove as

controversial as his last.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

António Vicente

Deputy head of cabinet

Giulia Del Brenna

Cabinet members

Maria Da Graça Carvahlo

Vygandas Jankunas

Alfredo Sousa

José Mendes Bota

Eveline Lecoq

António Vicente, head of cabinet,

worked as chief of staff to Moedas

when he was Portugal’s secretary of

state in 2011-14. Moedas’s deputy head

of cabinet, Giulia Del Brenna, an Italian,

has been working for the European

Commission since 1996. Her experience

has been mainly in pharmaceuticals.

An interesting addition to the team is

former centre-left MEP Maria da Graça

Carvalho (2009-14) who was a member

of the European Parliament’s committee

on industry, research and energy. She

was a minister for science and higher

education twice (2002-04, when José

Manuel Barroso was Portugal’s prime

minister, and 2004-05) but will now

work as Moedas’s senior adviser.


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COMMISSIONER

Pierre Moscovici

Economic and financial affairs, taxation and

customs

Country France

Born Paris, 16 September 1957

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@pierremoscovici

The last two questions at the hearing of

Pierre Moscovici, the French

commissioner­designate for economic

and financial affairs, taxation and customs

union, summed up how the whole process

had gone. Gunnar Hökmark, a Swedish

centre­right MEP, noted that when Moscovici

was France’s finance minister he had

increased public spending and lowered the

retirement age. “Are you today a different

Moscovici?” The next question, from Dutch

Liberal MEP Sophie in ’t Veld, began with

these damning words: “It is not about you

being French, but about your political

convictions...”

Moscovici’s track record as France’s finance

minister from 2012­14, when the country

needed an extension from the European

Commission to comply with European Union

budget rules, will hang over Moscovici’s time

as commissioner. However, if the MEPs had

hoped to force Moscovici to recant his biggovernment

approach they were

disappointed. “France has not broken the

rules,” he said. “Everything was done within

the rules.” He also refused to turn his back

on his time as finance minister, responding

to Hökmark that he had no mixed loyalties

and that as commissioner he would apply

“only the rules, nothing but the rules”.

That commitment to the growth and

stability pact, which places a rigid cap on

public spending at 3% of gross domestic

product, would have been anathema to the

young Moscovici, who until the age of 27 was

a member of the Revolutionary Communist

League, led by the Trotskyist Alain Krivine.

He took his first steps towards the French

Socialist party in 1986, under the influence of

Dominique Strauss Kahn, his economics

professor at the École Normale

d’Administration (ENA). That political

relationship lasted up until 2011, with

Moscovici backing Strauss Kahn’s bid to be

the Socialist candidate for France’s

presidential elections until the latter was

accused (and later acquitted) of rape.

Yet during the 1990s Moscovici was more

closely associated with another titan of the

Socialist Party: Lionel Jospin, France’s prime

minister from 1997­2002. He had stood

behind Jospin as he tried to distance the

party from a wave of scandals that had

engulfed it during François Mitterand’s

46

presidency in the late 1980s. Jospin rewarded

Moscovici by making him his European affairs

minister in 1997, when Moscovici resigned

from the European Parliament to win a seat

in the national parliament representing a

constituency in the Franche­Comté in the

east of France.

The two were close. Moscovici was, for

example, one of only two government

ministers to be invited to Jospin’s 60th

birthday party. But the relationship suffered

in 2006 when Moscovici backed Strauss Kahn

over his former boss to be the Socialist

Party’s presidential candidate.

Those familiar with Moscovici and his

career will not have been surprised by his

opening phrase at his European Parliament

hearing: “Europe is the great epic of our

century.” Indeed, Moscovici has always had a

particular passion for Europe and has been a

staunch defender of the European project.

Moscovici, a fluent English­speaker, went

on to serve as an MEP for a second time,

becoming vice­president of the European

Parliament from 2004­07 and president of

France’s European Movement.

Moscovici comes from a family of

immigrant intellectuals: his mother was

CV

2014 Member of National Assembly

2012-14 Economy and finance minister

2008-14 City councillor, Valentigney

2008-12 President of the Pays de

Montbéliard Agglomération

2007-12 Member of National Assembly

2004-07 Member of the European

Parliament

2002-04 Member of the court of

auditors

1998-2004 Member of Franche-Comté

regional council

1997-2000 Minister-delegate with

responsibility for European affairs

1994-2002 Member of general council,

Doubs department

1994-97 Member of the European

Parliament

1984-88 Member of the court of auditors

1982-84 Ecole Nationale

d'Administration

1978 Master’s degree in economics and

political science, Sciences Po

psychoanalyst while his father was a wellknown

social psychologist and founder of

France’s Green movement. Moscovici’s

ascension through the ranks of the Parisian

ruling elite is a textbook example of how to

succeed in French politics. He graduated

from ENA four years after François Hollande,

France’s president; some three decades later

he led Hollande’s election campaign and

became his economy and finance minister.

Like other such technocrats, unmarried

Moscovici has a reputation for being brainy

and aloof. While that may not matter so

much among Brussels’ eurocratic elites, his

nationality and ties with the profligacy of the

French state may well weigh him down.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Olivier Bailly

Deputy head of cabinet

Reinhard Felke

Cabinet members

Maria Elena Scoppio

Simon O’Connor

Fabien Dell

Ioana Diaconescu

Chloé Dessaint

Malgorzata Iskra

Moscovici’s head of cabinet, Olivier Bailly,

joined the Commission in 2001, and

within four years was assistant to

Catherine Day, the Commission’s

secretary-general. He became one of the

Commission’s most recognisable faces in

2010 when he was made a senior

spokesperson for the second Barroso

Commission. The deputy head of cabinet

is Reinhard Felke, a German who has

been at the Commission since 2000,

mostly in the department for economic

and financial affairs. He was a director for

economic and monetary affairs, a subject

that will dominate Moscovici’s time as

commissioner.


COMMISSIONER

Tibor Navracsics

Education, culture, youth and sport

Country Hungary

Born Veszprém, 13 June 1966

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@TNavracsicsEU

Tibor Navracsics was rewarded for his

loyalty to Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s

prime minister, by being nominated

as European commissioner. But it was that

same loyalty that led to him facing an

uncomfortable time in his confirmation

hearing before the European Parliament.

Hungary has had more run­ins with the

European Union and Europe’s human

rights watchdogs than any other EU state

in recent years. Navracsics has been a

leading light in Hungary’s ruling centreright

Fidesz party; and, until the past year

or so, he was Orbán’s right­hand man as

the chief of staff, the justice minister and

latterly the foreign minister and deputy

prime minister.

Navracsics had a swift rise through the

ranks of the Fidesz party, which he joined

in 1994. He was brought into the party to

help identify the causes of the party’s

unexpected rout in the 1994 elections.

When Orbán took office in 1998, the young

political scientist became the prime

minister’s press chief. After Fidesz

unexpectedly lost the 2002 elections, his

unflappable, methodical style made him

the natural choice to analyse the causes of

Fidesz’s defeat, and Orbán made him his

chief of staff. When Fidesz once again lost,

unexpectedly, to a resurgent Socialist Party

in 2006, he was made head of Fidesz’s

parliamentary group, becoming the face of

the party during its increasingly rancorous

campaign against Ferenc Gyurcsány’s

Socialist government.

“In 2006, I was the only one who wanted

the job,” he recalls of the moment of

gloom for a party that had, once again,

snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

That willingness to step into the breach

turned Navracsics from a backroom player

into a politician with a national profile.

The son of a teacher and a librarian,

Navracsics was born in the western city of

Veszprém in 1966.

A self­professed moderate, he attributes

a carefully cultivated non­confrontational

style and his belief in a “civic Hungary with

a strong middle class and market

economy” to the influence of his staid but

pretty hometown, an ancient and

prosperous city near the shores of Lake

Balaton. “Western Hungary has always

been less radical than the east,” he says.

It was while studying law in Budapest in

the late 1980s that he first came into

contact with Orbán and Fidesz. “It was

partly a generational thing, and that they

were from the provinces too. They were

the most appealing party for me at the

time,” he says. “But they were doing very

well without me, and I didn’t think I had

anything extra to bring to the table.”

Already a politics junkie, he busied

himself sampling the many new political

groupings that were emerging during the

“exciting time of the regime change”.

Acquaintances from that era remember

him leafleting enthusiastically for a

Trotskyite cell, though he says it was just

one of many different political groupings at

the time.

He was briefly a judge, but soon returned

to teach political science in Budapest,

spending a year at the UK’s University of

Sussex in what he describes as a formative

encounter with Anglo­Saxon political

thinking.

He is widely regarded as a well­briefed

technocrat, able to prepare himself for a

meeting during a short car journey. His

excellent English and businesslike tones

CV

2014 Foreign affairs and trade minister

2010-14 Deputy prime minister, public

administration and justice minister

2006-10 Member of parliament

1998-2002 Head of department, prime

minister’s office

1999 Associate professor, ELTE

1999 Doctorate in political science

1997-2000 Secretary-general, Hungarian

Political Science Association

1997-99 Senior lecturer, faculty of law

and political science, ELTE

1990 Law degree, Eötvös Loránd

University (ELTE), Budapest

have made him popular abroad – but he

showed a more pugnacious side as

parliamentary leader, with many of the

attacks on Gyurcsány absurdly personal

and bitter.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Jonathan Hill

Deputy head of cabinet

Adrienn Király

Cabinet members

Christine Mai

Patricia Reilly

Rodrigo Ballester

Anna Georgina Isola

Tamás Szokira

Szabolcs Horváth

Navracsics’s head of office is Jonathan

Hill, a British official who was deputy

head of office to Androulla Vassiliou

when she was commissioner for

education, culture, youth and sport.

Navracsics’s deputy is Adrienn Kiraly, a

Hungarian official who used to work in

the Commission’s justice department.

Patricia Reilly, an Irish official, used to

work in the office of Máire Geoghegan-

Quinn, the commissioner for research,

innovation and science.

47


COMMISSIONER

Günther Oettinger

Digital economy and society

Country Germany

Born Stuttgart, 15 October 1953

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@GOettingerEU

When Günther Oettinger’s October

2014 parliamentary hearing made

international headlines, it was for

all the wrong reasons. The German

politician, who had previously described

himself as “not happy, but satisfied” to

receive the digital agenda portfolio, scoffed

at celebrities who had been “dumb” enough

to allow nude photos of themselves to

appear online.

It was a tone­deaf comment, but also one

which revealed a misunderstanding of what

had happened. The Hollywood actors

concerned had not posted photographs of

themselves online but had had their iCloud

accounts hacked, and Oettinger’s struggle

to get his head around what was the big

technological talking­point of the day

dismayed those expecting him to take a

stand on internet security.

So it was that while Oettinger was able to

limp through the hearing, his appointment

pleased no­one. Advocates of digital rights

and intellectual property advocates were

unhappy that a key role in formulating

digital policy had gone to someone from

Germany, a country which had resisted

expanding access to online content.

Meanwhile the German media thought the

post was unimportant and one which did

not reflect Germany’s leading economic

position in the European Union.

Missteps in the confirmation hearing

simply added to the sense that this was a

portfolio misfit. The 61­year­old Oettinger,

who had been commissioner for energy in

the second Barroso Commission, was then

derided in German and British media when,

while defending his suitability for the job,

he asserted that he used the internet every

day (it seemed unlikely).

Many in the energy sector would have

preferred to see Oettinger, who had been

commissioner for energy in the second

Barroso Commission, become the vicepresident

for energy. Indeed this was also

believed to be the ambition of Oettinger

himself. However, for Jean­Claude Juncker,

the president of the Commission, to award

a vice­presidency to Germany and not to

France or the UK could have proven

politically unpalatable.

Yet Oettinger had been a steady

performer as energy commissioner, deftly

48

handling difficult negotiations with the EU’s

partners and acting as a industry­friendly

check on the more ambitious climatechange

policies put forward by then

commissioner for climate action, Connie

Hedegaard. It is worth remembering that

Oettinger’s 2009 appointment as energy

commissioner had also been greeted with

little enthusiasm. On that occasion, his

public standing had been undermined by

the discovery that he had been Chancellor

Angela Merkel’s third choice for the role.

At the time, Oettinger had spent his entire

life in his home state of Baden­

Württemberg and it had been suggested

that Merkel’s decision to send him to

Brussels was her way of getting rid of a

political rival. Other criticisms came from

outside Oettinger’s and Merkel’s camp.

“Who is he?”, asked Guy Verhofstadt, now

the leader of the Liberal (ALDE) group in the

European Parliament.

The attacks by rivals were perhaps

predictable, but the more general lack of

respect for Oettinger might seem peculiar

to outsiders. Oettinger is, after all, a man

who, as minister­president of Baden­

Württemberg in 2005­09, presided over a

land more populous than Sweden and one

of Germany’s most economically important

Länder.

Part of the dismissive attitude is regional

prejudice. Despite its wealth, the heavy

regional accent of Baden­Württemberg,

Schwäbish, leaves many struggling to avoid

being dismissed as bumpkins. However,

Oettinger’s public persona has not helped

CV

2010-14 European commissioner for

energy

2005-10 Minister-president of Baden-

Württemberg

1984-2010 Member of the state

parliament of Baden-Württemberg

1984-2005 Lawyer

1980-84 Town councillor, Ditzingen

1971-82 Law degree, Tübingen University

him: he has never looked at ease on

occasions that most regional politicians

would savour.

In his first term as a commissioner,

Oettinger did little to dispel the impression

of being cold and aloof. He was never a

favourite among the Brussels press pack

and was prone to gaffes and an appearance

of irritability. But he was always viewed as

highly competent and result­oriented,

showing an impressive command of all

questions related to energy. While digital

issues may not have been his forte at the

October hearing, Oettinger may yet again

surprise those who underestimate him.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Michael Hager

Deputy head of cabinet

Eric Mamer

Cabinet members

Bodo Lehmann

Paula Pinho

Markus Schulte

Marlene Holzner

Anna Herold

Oettinger has kept on many of the

members of his private office from his

term as Commissioner for energy

including Michael Hager, a German who

continues as head of office, and Eric

Mamer, a French official formerly in the

Commission’s budget department, who

continues as Oettinger’s deputy. Bodo

Lehmann (German), Paula Pinho

(Portuguese) and Markus Schulte

(German) were previously in Oettinger’s

team. Marlene Holzner, his

communications adviser, was

Oettinger’s spokesperson during his first

term.


COMMISSIONER

Christos Stylianides

Humanitarian aid and crisis management

Country Cyprus

Born Nicosia, 26 June 1958

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@StylianidesEU

The importance of the role of European

commissioner for humanitarian aid

and crisis management hinges on one

important factor: the scale of the crisis, or

crises, that need to be tackled.

And there was no easy start for Christos

Stylianides. National leaders named him the

EU’s Ebola co­ordinator, as the disease

spread at an alarming rate across west

Africa. One of his first tasks after taking

office was to visit the three countries most

affected by Ebola – Guinea, Liberia and

Sierra Leone. “Ebola should be addressed

like a mega natural disaster – it is like a

typhoon in slow motion,” he told the

members of the European Parliament’s

development committee. “It is also a threat

to global security… behind the worrying

statistics of [its] devastating spread … are

real human lives, people and communities

that will also need psychosocial assistance

after recovery.”

In the battle against the virus, aides say

his priority will be getting more medical

professionals to the frontlines to deal with

the pandemic.

Stylianides was certainly not daunted by

the task ahead of him. That the former

dental surgeon had also tasted crisis in

his native Cyprus – witnessing, first hand,

Greek and Turkish Cypriots caught up in the

war – reinforced his conviction that he was

the right man for the post. At his hearing

before the Parliament, he said: “I know

what it means to be in a conflict situation,

to have no shelter, to be without the basic

needs, to live in fear and be stripped of your

dignity.”

The son of a shopkeeper, Stylianides grew

up in Nicosia’s old walled city. He had a

front­row view of the strife that would

erupt in 1974 when, in response to a coup

intended to unite the island with Greece,

Turkey sent in troops. Overnight, hundreds

of thousands were turned into refugees;

Stylianides’s home was close to the UNpatrolled

Green Line, which to this day

bisects the capital.

Mild­mannered Stylianides trained and

worked as a dental surgeon before going

into politics. Although liberal by inclination,

his political career has always been with the

centre­right Democratic Rally party, DISY, on

the grounds that it takes a more conciliatory

approach to reuniting Cyprus.

From 1998­99 and, again, from 2013­14

he served as government spokesman,

gaining a reputation as a moderate and a

pragmatist.

Stylianides is also seen a risk­taker. Aides

speak of his pioneering role in social rights:

despite the deeply conservative views of

most of his compatriots, the politician has

been a champion of equality for

homosexuals, participating in the island’s

first gay pride parade earlier this year.

A hardcore Europeanist, he advocated

Cyprus’s accession to the European Union

as far back as the mid­1990s, when he

co­founded the Movement for Political

Modernisation and Reform. Similarly, he

supported the controversial United Nationsbrokered

blueprint for Cyprus known as the

Annan plan, which called for an end to the

island’s division and for reunification of its

two feuding communities in a bi­zonal,

bi­communal federation – in a referendum

in 2004, the plan was accepted by a

majority of Turkish Cypriots but

overwhelmingly rejected by Stylianides’s

fellow Greeks Cypriots.

Stylianides told MEPs that he also wanted

to concentrate on the crises that, ignored

and forgotten, were out of the news: “I

CV

2014 Elected as a member of the

European Parliament

2013-14 Government spokesperson

2011-13 Vice-chairman of the foreign and

European affairs committee

2011-13 Member of the bureau of the

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

2006-13 Member of the Cyprus House of

Representatives

2006-11 Member of the OSCE

Parliamentary Assembly

1998-99 Government spokesman

1984 Degree in dental surgery

want to be the spokesman of the most

vulnerable, the voice of the voiceless.

The EU must not arrive with too little, too

late. Not even once!”

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Themis Christophidou

Deputy head of cabinet

Kim Eling

Cabinet members

Sohial Luka

Davinia Wood (maternity leave,

replaced by Caterine Ebah-

Moussa)

Myrto Zambarta

Mathieu Briens

Zacharias Giakoumis

Stylianides’s private office is headed by

Themis Christophidou from Greece, who

served as deputy head of cabinet for

then fisheries commissioner Maria

Damanaki. Christophidou has a long

experience within the European

Comission. She was working in Brussels

before Cyprus joined the European

Union. Before working for Damanaki,

Christophidou had also served as

deputy head of cabinet for Androulla

Vassiliou, Cyprus’s previous

commissioner. Kim Eling, formerly

deputy chef for Kristalina Georgieva, will

serve as deputy chef for Stylianides. He

previously served as deputy head of

cabinet for Georgieva when she was

commissioner for humanitarian aid. He

was in charge of Central and Western

Africa, as well as relations with the US

and Canada.

49


COMMISSIONER

Marianne Thyssen

Employment, social affairs, skills

and labour mobility

Country

Born

Belgium

Sint-Gillis-Waas,

24 July 1956

Political affiliation EPP

Twitter

@mariannethyssen

As the European commissioner for

employment, social affairs, skills and

labour mobility, Marianne Thyssen is

charged with getting more European

citizens into work and increasing career

opportunities. In some respects, she is

eminently qualified: she has worked hard to

get where she is now and has blazed a trail

for women in Belgian public life. Yet her

career also demonstrates the importance of

chance. For her, opportunities were created

by a mix of accident and luck, seasoned

with a well­developed sense of duty.

It was former president of the European

Council (2009­14), Herman Van Rompuy,

who persuaded Thyssen to embark on a

political career and to put herself forward

as a candidate for the European Parliament

for the 1989 elections.

Thyssen, who was born in eastern

Flanders, came from outside the world of

politics: her family owned a bakery and she

was director of the research and advisory

section of Unizo, which represents small

businesses and the self­employed. She

harboured no ambition to go into frontline

politics and her colleagues had a hard time

persuading her to make the leap. At the

time, she says, she had “the best job in the

world”.

Thyssen did not get elected in the 1989

contest, but became an MEP two years later

when she took the place of Karel Pinxten,

who had moved to the Belgian senate.

What was unforeseeable then was that she

would remain an MEP for the next 23 years,

leaving only when she was nominated for

the European Commission.

Belgium’s choice of a European

commissioner became caught up in the

struggle to form a national government – a

general election had been held on 25 May,

the same day as the elections to the

European Parliament. To the surprise of

some, her CD&V party chose to secure the

post of commissioner for Thyssen instead of

taking the prime ministerial job.

What made her nomination easier was

that in the Parliament she enjoyed support

that crosses party boundaries. She has none

of the big­ego abrasiveness that was a

feature of her predecessors in the

Commission – Karel De Gucht and Louis

50

Michel. Whether in Flemish or European

politics, party colleagues and opponents

alike are – without exception – positive

about her.

While an MEP, she also exercised a second

mandate in local politics, which the Belgian

political system permits in theory and the

proximity of the European Parliament

permits in practice. She was a member of

the municipal council of Oud Heverlee, just

to the south of Leuven, but relinquished

some of her local duties in the last years of

her time as an MEP – in part to allow her to

work on important dossiers in the

Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs

committee.

Additionally, in 2008 senior figures in the

CD&V had asked Thyssen to take over the

position of chairing the party. She had never

made a secret of her preference for

European rather than national politics,

seeing Europe as her “natural

environment,” yet she took up the national

responsibility as grateful recognition that

“the party has allowed me to stay in Europe

for such a long time”.

Party leadership was no easy task

following many political crises and falling

support for her party. Thyssen, who stepped

down from the post in 2010, characterises

CV

2008-10 Leader of the CD&V (Flemish

Christian Democrats)

2004-09 First vice-president of the

European People’s Party group in the

European Parliament

2001-08 First Alderman, Oud-Heverlee

1999-2014 Head of the Belgian

delegation of the European People’s Party

group in the European Parliament

1999-2014 Member of the European

Parliament

1995-2008 Municipal councillor,

Oud-Heverlee

1991 Acting secretary-general, Unizo

1988-91 Director of research

department, Unizo (Belgian SME

organisation)

1979-80 Research assistant, faculty of

law, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

1979 Master’s degree in law, Katholieke

Universiteit Leuven

her time as party chair as “the most

stressful period” of her life, though she said

she would do it again if asked to.

Although many in Belgian politics were

disappointed that Thyssen was assigned

only the employment and social affairs

portfolio, her own reaction was that “she

could not have wished for a better post”.

Hers is a serious dossier and her staff can

be sure that she will work hard to master

its technicalities.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Stefaan Hermans

Deputy head of cabinet

Ruth Paserman

Cabinet members

Baudouin Baudru

Inge Bernaerts

Vasiliki Kokkori

Julie Anne Fionda

Luk Vanmaercke

Raf de Backer

Jonathan Stabenow

Thyssen’s cabinet is led by Stefaan

Hermans, a Belgian and a former head of

unit in the department for research and

innovation. Her deputy chef de cabinet, is

Ruth Paserman, an Italian with an

extensive track record in the

Commission, which she joined in 1996.

Paserman joined a commissioner’s

cabinet for the first time in 2009 when

she worked for Antonio Tajani in the

dpeartment for industry and

entrepreneurship. She left in 2011 to

become head of unit for industry and

entreprise. Among Thyssen’s seven other

cabinet members are four Belgians,

including her current communications

adviser Luk Vanmaercke. Her personal

assistant, Raf De Backer, has worked with

her for the past fifteen years.


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51


COMMISSIONER

Karmenu Vella

Environment, maritime affairs

and fisheries

Country Malta

Born Zurrieq, ˙ 19 June 1950

Political affiliation PES

Twitter

@KarmenuVella

Nicknames have a special significance

in Malta. Whether a badge of

individual respect (or notoriety), a

man’s laqam will often tell you more about

him than his entire CV.

Karmenu Vella has had many titles in his

40­year political and business career:

minister for public works, industry, tourism,

the economy; chairman of the Corinthia

Group of companies; shadow minister for

finance, to name but a few. But to many in

Malta he is known simply as “The Guy”: a

nickname that goes back to his early

campaigning days, when he was regarded as

atypically urbane and well­groomed for a

representative of a blue­collar workers’

party.

The appellation reflects a quality that set

Vella apart when he stood for parliament

for the Labour Party in 1976, then in his

mid­20s. Often at odds with the militant

Maltese socialism of the time, he projected

an image of affable bonhomie. Likewise, his

television appearances over four decades of

electioneering have earned him a

reputation as a soft­spoken, almost docile

interlocutor – far more at home in his

native Maltese than in English or Italian,

though he speaks all three.

Time has also endowed Vella with a

certain venerability in Maltese politics.

When he vacated his parliamentary seat in

2014 he was one of only two MPs who had

served uninterruptedly for 38 years.

But Vella’s ascendancy in Maltese politics

cannot be attributed to mere charisma. It is

widely acknowledged that his enormous

grassroots popularity would not have been

possible without the special relationship he

forged in the late 1960s with former prime

minister Dom Mintoff.

In those early days, Vella was “the Guy”

who accompanied Mintoff wherever he

went. This earned Vella another, less

flattering nickname: “Mintoff’s pet”.

Ironically, however, Vella would in later

years be credited with a lead role in the

post­1992 transformation of the Labour

Party.

This collision between ‘Old’ and ‘New’

Labour proved a defining moment for the

party, which emerged ‘purged’, so to speak,

of many faces from the old guard. Not Vella,

however: he retained his prominence, in

52

government and opposition.

Vella has been assigned sensitive cabinet

posts in every Labour administration since

1981. But it was in tourism that he left the

most lasting impression. Tourism accounts

for 14% of Malta’s GDP. Most would

concede that it was under Vella’s

management that the strategic importance

of this sector was first given the concerted

government attention many felt it deserved.

For much the same reasons, however, not

everyone sings Vella’s praises. Vella’s own

direct interests in the sector have raised

eyebrows. In 2001, while shadow tourism

minister, Vella was appointed executive

chairman of Corinthia Hotels International,

Malta’s largest hotel chain.

Tourism may be a speciality, but Vella has

no experience in the areas that he is now

responsible for as a European

commissioner. That did not go unnoticed in

his hearing before the European Parliament,

where there were concerns about giving the

environment portfolio to someone from a

country that has a spring bird­hunting

season.

Efforts have also consistently been made

to resurrect Vella’s connections with

Mintoff’s Labour government of the 1980s –

a political administration that has since

CV

2013-14 Tourism and aviation minister

2010-13 Chairman of Orange Travel

Group

2008-13 Co-ordinator of the Labour

Party parliamentary group

2008-10 Executive chairman of

Mediterranean Construction Company

2001-07 Executive chairman of Corinthia

Hotels International

2000 Master’s degree in tourism

management, Sheffield Hallam University

1996-98 Tourism minister

1984-87 Industry minister

1981-83 Public works minister

1976-2014 Member of parliament

1973-81 Architect

1973 Degree in architecture and civil

engineering

been found guilty of human rights

violations. As The Times of Malta put it last

year: “There were allegations against the

government over political thuggery, tax

evasion and corruption.” Vella has not been

implicated in any such allegations; and even

his political opponents concede in private

that he is a difficult man to dislike. In a

country that routinely throws up political

heroes and villains, “The Guy” does not

quite fit into either role.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Patrick Costello

Deputy head of cabinet

Gabriella Pace

Cabinet members

Jürgen Müller

Aurore Maillet

András Inotai

Andrew Bianco

Lanfranco Fanti

Antonina Rousseva

Brian Synnott

Costello was deputy to the chair of the

EU’s Political and Security Committee, a

group of member states’ ambassadors

dealing with security issues, in 2011-14

and deputy head of unit in the

Commission’s external relations

department in 2009-11. He worked for

Margot Wallström, the commissioner

for communication and interinstitutional

relations, in 2007-09 and

for Josep Borrell, European Parliament

president, in 2004-06. The office’s

deputy head of cabinet is Gabriella Pace,

a Maltese who worked with the

European Central Bank from 2009 as a

senior lawyer.


COMMISSIONER

Margrethe Vestager

Competition

Country Denmark

Born Glostrup, 13 April 1968

Political affiliation ALDE

Twitter

@vestager

Much has been made of the parallels

between Danish politician

Margrethe Vestager and the

fictional female prime minister of Denmark

in the cult TV series Borgen. Vestager has

even revealed that an actor researching the

programme followed her around to get a

feel for the life of a high­profile female

politician in the midst of Denmark’s often

evolving coalition politics.

Which is why, shortly after Vestager was

awarded the influential competition

portfolio in the Jean­Claude Juncker

Commission, TV buffs delved into their DVD

box sets to take another look at episode 12

of Borgen, set in and around the seat of

Danish government, Copenhagen’s

Christiansborg Palace.

The episode is called “In Brussels, no one

can hear you scream” and it tells of a

ruthless move by the prime minister to rid

herself of a rival by awarding him the role of

commissioner – the implication being that

the EU is where political careers go to die. It

was a case of art­imitating­life­imitating­art,

although Vestager was not the prime

minister, but the rival being sent to political

Siberia.

Vestager was Denmark’s minister for

economic affairs and the interior from 2011

until her resignation late in 2014. As the

leader of the centrist Radikale Venstre

(Radical Left) party, she was one of only two

Danish ministers who had any experience of

government before 2011 when the threeparty

centre­left coalition came to power,

under social democrat Prime Minister Helle

Thorning­Schmidt.

After appointing Vestager to the

Commission, Thorning­Schmidt had kind

words for her deputy, who had played such

a large part in setting Denmark’s economic

course. “I will miss Margrethe, with whom I

have had a good working relationship,”

Thorning­Schmidt said. Yet the relationship

between the two politicians was reportedly

frosty, with Vestager’s strong vision casting

a shadow over the at­times­troubled

leadership of Thorning­Schmidt.

In real life there appears little to suggest

that Brussels will be the kiss of death for

Vestager’s career. Unleashing an arguably

unrivalled charm offensive during her

hearing before the European Parliament’s

economic affairs committee, the 46­year­old

economist vowed to be a tireless

campaigner for competition – and not just

because it makes good business sense.

“Competition policy is neither bureaucracy

nor technicalities,” she said. “It is [about]

values – and these I have found in the

European Parliament.”

MEPs appeared comfortable both with

Vestager’s mastery of the brief and her

commitment to defend her independence

from the big end of town. “I will listen to

everyone – from the largest multinationals

to the representatives of small firms,”

Vestager said. “But the analysis of my staff,

and my own judgement, will not be swayed

by anyone.”

Vestager was born just outside

Copenhagen but grew up in rural Ølgod with

parents who were both Lutheran pastors.

Both were card­carrying members of

Radikale Venstre – a socially progressive but

economically dry party that Vestager’s

great­great grandfather helped to found.

She joined at a young age, standing for

parliament when she was just 20 (without

success), and becoming national

chairwoman after leaving university in

1993 at the age of 25.

In 1998, at the age of 29, Vestager

became minister for education and

ecclesiastical affairs, a position that put her

in charge of the Danish state church –

CV

2011-14 Economic affairs and interior

minister

2007-14 Leader of Radikale Venstre

2001-14 Member of parliament

2000-01 Education minister

1998-2000 Education and ecclesiastical

affairs minister

1997-98 Head of secretariat, Agency

for Financial Management and

Administrative Affairs

1995-97 Special consultant, Agency

for Financial Management and

Administrative Affairs

1993-95 Head of section, Finance

Ministry

1993 Master of science in economics,

University of Copenhagen

making her, in effect, her parents’ boss.

Elections in 2001 removed the party from

government but finally gave Vestager a seat

in parliament. In 2007 she took over the

party’s reins and under her leadership it

gained its ‘Radicool’ image as the party of

the cultural elite.

Vestager was known for running and

walking her dog around her Copenhagen

neighbourhood, and she preferred her bike

to the ministerial car service. Her personal

life has none of the messiness of her

fictional counterpart on Borgen: she is

married to academic Thomas Jensen and

they have three daughters: Maria, Rebecca

and Ella.

Cabinet

Head of cabinet

Ditte Juul-Jørgensen

Deputy head of cabinet

Linsey McCallum

Cabinet members

Søren Schønberg

Astrid Cousin

Friedrich Wenzel Bulst

Claes Bengtsson

Christina Holm-Eiberg

Mette Dyrskjøt

Thomas George

Linsey McCallum, a British lawyer who

has been at the Commission for 21

years, is the deputy head of cabinet and

was a contemporary of Juul Jørgensen

at the College of Europe. Previously a

director in the directorate-general for

competition, McCallum is a veteran of

antitrust cases in the technology sector,

which should prove useful. Vestager’s

Danish head of cabinet, Ditte Juul-

Jørgensen, was a director in the

Commission’s department for trade.

Senior adviser Søren Schønberg was in

the cabinet of Cecilia Malmström when

she was commissioner for home affairs.

53


GENDER BALANCE

Hitting targets

The European Commission’s gender

balance – or lack of it – had the

dubious honour of being the

controversy which cast a shadow over Jean­

Claude Juncker’s presidency even before the

Luxembourg politician had officially taken

office. Juncker had wanted to appoint at

least as many female commissioners as his

predecessor José Manuel Barroso, who

counted nine women among his 27

(subsequently 28) commissioners during his

second mandate (2009­14). Juncker was

even subjected to a ’10 or more’ campaign

– a social media meme featuring photos of

outgoing female commissioners holding

both hands up in a 10­finger salute.

It was not to be. In spite of a promise to

offer female commissioners’ more

prestigious portfolios, most member states

put forward male candidates and Juncker

was only able to match Barroso’s nine when

Poland eventually selected Elżbieta

Bieńkowska. Instead, Juncker set a more

ambitious – and perhaps more realistic –

target to improve female representation in

the ranks of the Commission’s middle and

senior management – in short, in the ranks

of the officials rather than those nominated

by politicians. As outlined in his mission

letter to Kristalina Georgieva, the

commissioner for budget and human

resources, Juncker had set the target of 40%

female representation for senior and middle

management staff in his term. The

Commission president also asked Georgieva

to “pay particular attention to gender

equality in the recruitment process and

throughout the career path”.

The Barroso II Commission had worked on

an ‘equal opportunity strategy’ from 2010­14

to increase the number of female staff for

three management areas in which women

were under­represented. By the end of 2014,

women were to make up 25% of senior

management posts, meaning that a third of

appointments to replace those leaving for

retirement should be women. Additionally,

Barroso wanted women to make up 30% of

middle­management and 43% of nonmanagement

administrator posts.

It was a concerted effort on the part of

the Commission which saw those targets

met in February 2014. Commission research

revealed that job flexibility was an

important factor in encouraging women civil

servants to take on greater responsibilities.

An attempt was also made to create a work

environment in which “men and women are

offered the best chances of contributing

fully to the success of the organisation”.

The latest figures show that almost 28% of

the Commission’s senior managers were

Commission staff by age and gender

AGE FEMALE

MALE

21 - 22 1 100.0%

23 - 24 4 66.7% 2 33,3%

24 - 26 25 61.0% 16 39.0%

27 - 28 83 62.4% 50 37.6%

29 - 30 194 70.5% 81 29.5%

31 - 32 342 66.7% 171 33.3%

33 - 34 637 65.5% 336 34.5%

35 - 36 958 64.5% 527 35.5%

37 - 38 1,016 62.5% 610 37.5%

39 - 40 930 57.1% 700 42.9%

41 - 42 865 57.7% 635 42.3%

43 - 44 879 54.6% 730 45.4%

45 - 46 959 53.8% 822 46.2%

47 - 48 965 51.8% 898 48.2%

49 - 50 895 50.5% 877 49.5%

51 - 52 864 49.9% 868 50.1%

53 - 54 816 46.8% 929 53.2%

55 - 56 667 43.6% 863 56.4%

57 - 58 547 41.0% 788 59.0%

59 - 60 389 38.2% 629 61.8%

61 - 62 243 37.3% 408 62.7%

63 - 64 141 35.3% 258 64.7%

65 - 66 12 31.6% 26 68.4%

67 - 68 1 100.0%

women, who also made up 30% of middle

management positions and 43% of nonmanagement

positions. All this adds up to

significant progress over the past 20 years:

in 1995 women made up a mere 4% of

senior management roles, 10% of middle

management positions and almost 24% of

non­management staff.

Yet Juncker is now aiming for more and

set the 40% target for all three management

categories. As things stand, of the 13,517

officials working at the Commission on 1

January, 42.2% are female.

Yet there is another staffing discrepancy

which may prove harder to address:

national representation. If broken down by

country of origin, the Commission’s staff is

not particularly representative, particularly

as staff regulations state clearly that

recruitment and appointments are to be

Source: European Commission

made on the “broadest possible

geographical basis” from nationals of all EU

member states. Recruitment is underpinned

by a complex formula, which takes into

account a country’s total population, its

number of seats in parliament and its

weight in the Council of Ministers.

The regulations also say that no post can

be set aside for nationals from a given

member state and that competence

relevant to the function should be the main

selection criterion. There was an exception

to this rule: the transition period after EU

enlargement, in which compulsory

recruitment targets were set and specific

posts could be reserved for the nationals

from new member­states in a bid to boost

their numbers. Croatia, which joined the EU

in 2013, was to benefit from this form of

positive discrimination until mid­2018.

54


LOCATION

Where in the world

Most of the Commission’s 34,000 officials are based in

Brussels, working in more than 70 buildings. Most of

these buildings are located around the European

quarter near Schuman roundabout although the Commission

does have offices in Evere, eastern Brussels on the way to NATO,

and Beaulieu in south­eastern Brussels.

The location of Commission departments has been overhauled

recently as a result of reorganisations decided by Jean­Claude

Juncker when he became president of the Commission. For an

up­to­date directory of the addresses of Commission

departments check the Commission directory

http://europa.eu/whoiswho/public/index.cfm?lang=en

There are also 3,900 Commission officials working in

Luxembourg. Commission offices in Luxembourg include

Eurostat, the EU’s statistical service, and parts of the health,

translation, IT and payments departments. Commission staff in

Luxembourg are likely to move buildings soon because of work at

some of the Commission offices.

A list of all the Commission’s buildings in Brussels can be

found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/oib/buildings_en.cfm

A list of all the Commission’s buildings in Luxembourg can be

found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/oil/batiments_en.htm

The Commission also has representations in each of the 28 EU

member states. A list of the representations can be found

here:

http://ec.europa.eu/represent_en.htm

Commission staff also work in the EU’s delegations to third

countries and international organisations which are headed

by a member of the European External Action Service.

A full list of the EU’s delegations can be found here:

http://www.eeas.europa.eu/delegations/index_en.htm

Useful links

Webpage of Jean­Claude Juncker, president of the

Commission:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014­2019/president_en

The commissioners’ webpages:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014­2019_en

Official Journal:

http://eur­lex.europa.eu/oj/direct­access.html

Transparency register:

http://ec.europa.eu/transparencyregister/public/homePage.do

EU who is who:

http://europa.eu/whoiswho/public/

Centralised page of departments and services:

http://ec.europa.eu/about/ds_en.htm

Executive agencies:

http://europa.eu/about­eu/agencies/index_en.htm

Historical archives:

http://ec.europa.eu/historical_archives/index_en.htm

Audio­visual and photo service:

http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/photo/

CVs’ of the Commission’s directors­general, deputy directorsgeneral

and equivalent senior management officials:

http://ec.europa.eu/civil_service/about/who/dg_en.htm

55


PAY

European commissioners: what they earn

President

Jean-Claude Juncker

Annual salary: €306,655

High representative

security policy

Federica Mogherini

Annual salary: €288,877

The salaries of European commissioners are set

at 112.5% of the pay of an official at grade A16,

step 3 (see facing page). The president of the

European Commission is paid 138% of this

grade and the vice-president 125%. The high

representative, who is also a vice-president of

the Commission, is paid 130%.

Vice-presidents

Annual salary: €277,767

Commissioners

Annual salary: €249,990

On joining the Commission, a

commissioner is entitled to an

installation allowance of two

months’ salary.

a residence allowance of 15% of their

basic salary and a monthly allowance

for representative expenses (€1,418 for

the president, €911 for vice-presidents

and €608 for other commissioners).

On leaving the Commission,

commissioners are entitled to a

resettlement allowance of one month’s

basic salary and a three-year

transitional allowance of 40%-65% of

their salary, which is reduced if they

take up new, paid activities.

Commissioners can draw their pensions

from 65. The pension may not exceed

70% of the final basic salary. It is

calculated at 4.275% of the basic salary

Travel and removal costs are also

reimbursed.

Salaries are subject to EU tax (8%-45%)

and a solidarity levy of 7%.

56


PAY

European Commission salaries (January 2015)

Step

monthly, in euro

Grade 1 2 3 4 5

16 17 054.40 17 771.05 18 517.81

15 15 073.24 15 706.64 16 366.65 16 822.00 17 054.40

14 13 322.22 13 882.04 14 465.38 14 867.83 15 073.24

13 11 774.62 12 269.40 12 784.98 13 140.68 13 322.22

12 10 406.80 10 844.10 11 299.79 11 614.16 11 774.62

11 9 197.87 9 584.37 9 987.12 10 264.98 10 406.80

10 8 129.38 8 470.99 8 826.95 9 072.53 9 197.87

9 7 185.01 7 486.94 7 801.55 8 018.60 8 129.38

8 6 350.35 6 617.20 6 895.26 7 087.10 7 185.01

7 5 612.65 5 848.50 6 094.26 6 263.81 6 350.35

6 4 960.64 5 169.10 5 386.31 5 536.16 5 612.65

5 4 384.38 4 568.62 4 760.60 4 893.04 4 960.64

4 3 875.06 4 037.89 4 207.57 4 324.63 4 384.38

3 3 424.90 3 568.82 3 718.79 3 822.25 3 875.06

2 3 027.04 3 154.24 3 286.79 3 378.23 3 424.90

1 2 675.40 2 787.82 2 904.97 2 985.79 3 027.04

Assistants can be employed at grades 1-11, secretaries and clerks at grades 1-6 and


on policy is AD5. Assistants can become administrators if they undergo training and

pass exams relating to administrators’ tasks.


until they advance to the next grade. Administrators can reach grade AD12 through

such promotion alone.



managers in the Commission at head of unit level have to be at least AD9.


57


INDEX

Alexandrova, Sophie P17

Andriukaitis, Vytenis P27, 34

Ansip, Andrus P10, 11, 18, 35

Arias Canete, Miguel P10, 11, 28, 34

Avramopoulos, Dimitris P30, 34

Balta, Liene P12

Baltazar, Telmo P9

Barroso, José Manuel P10, 24

Battista, Jasmin P18

Bieńkowska, Elżbieta P11, 31, 34

Borisov, Boyko P17

Bulc, Violeta P11, 32, 34

Cameron, David P8

Chapuis, Laure P18

Colombani, Antoine P12

Crețu, Corina P11, 33, 35

Curtis, Michael P14

Day, Catherine P42

Dejmek­Hack, Paulina P9

Delors, Jacques P9

Delvaux Léon P9

Dombrovskis, Valdis P10, 11, 22, 35

Draghi, Mario P8

Fernandez­Shaw, Felix P14

Georgieva, Kristalina P10, 11, 17, 34

Giorev, Daniel P17

Grazin, Igor P18

Gren, Jörgen P18

Gros­Tchorbadjiyska, Angelina P17

Hahn, Johannes P11, 16, 36, 35

Hill, Jonathan (commissioner) P11, 24, 35, 37

Hill, Jonathan (head of cabinet) P47

Hinrikus, Hanna P18

Hogan, Phil P11, 35, 38

Hristcheva, Mariana P17

Illiev, Dimo P17

Italianer, Alexander P42

Järven, Aare P18

Jennings, Michael P17

Jourová, Věra P11, 35, 40

Juncker, Jean­Claude P4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 24,

26, 34, 42, 54, 56

Karshovski, Ivan P17

Kasel, Antoine P9

Katainen, Jyrki P11, 23, 35

Kloc, Kamila P18

Kostov, Ivan P17

Kramer, Sandra P9

Kroes, Neelie P26

Laitenberger, Johannes P9

Lamy, Pascal P9

Lepassaar, Juhan p18

Le Roy, Alain P16

Maggi, Riccardo P12

Malmström, Cecilia P10, 11, 16, 34, 41

Manservisi, Stefano P14, 15, 16, 42

Martenczuk, Bernd P12

Martinez­Alberola, Clara P9

Mettler, Ann P26

Mimica, Neven P10, 11, 16, 34, 43

Moedas, Carlos P11, 34, 44

Mogherini, Federica P10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 34

Mogherini, Flavio P14

Moscovici, Pierre P10, 11, 46, 34

Navracsics, Tibor P11, 34, 47

Nelen, Sarah P12

Oettinger, Günther P10, 11, 18, 35, 48

Padar, Ivari P18

Panzetti, Fabrizia P14

Petrocelli, Enrico P14

Piorko, Iwona P14

Prodi, Romano P15

Putin, Vladimir P14

Ray, Catherine P14

Rebesani, Matteo P14

Rentschler, Oliver P14

Renzi, Matteo P14

Requena, Luis Romero P42

Richard, Alice P12

Rõivas, Taavi P18

Rouch, Pauline P9

Santer, Jacques P8

Sarkozy, Nicolas P8

ŠefČoviČ, Maroš P10, 11, 20, 26, 35

Selmayr, Martin P9, 42

Servoz, Michel P42

Schwarz, Andreas P17

Smit, Maarten P12

Smith, Jeremy P18

Smulders, Ben P12

Strotmann, Maximilian P18

Stylianides, Christos P10, 11, 16, 49, 35

Sutton, Michelle P12

Szostak, Richard P9

Tholoniat, Luc P9

Thyssen, Marianne P10, 11, 50, 35

Timmermans, Frans P10, 11, 12, 24

Trichet, Jean­Claude P8

Tusk, Donald P14

Ustubs, Peteris P14

Van Bueren, Saar P12

Van Rompuy, Herman P8

Vannini, Arianna P14

Vella, Karmenu P11, 35, 52

Veltroni, Walter P14

Vezyroglou, Anna P14

Vestager, Margrethe P35, 53

Werner, Elisabeth P17

Zadra, Carlo P9

58

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